Hong Kong’s privacy body has clamped down on two magazines, Sudden Weekly and Face, for allegedly infringing on the privacy of three artists by secretly snapping and then publishing photos of their private lives last year, South China Morning Post reported.
The two magazines collected the stars’ private information “by unfair means,” including showing an actor while nude, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data stated. They used long lenses from one kilometre away to take the photos of the celebrities at home, according to the report.
The three TVB artists involved, Bosco Wong Chung-chak, Yoyo Chen Chi-yiu and Vincent Wong Ho-shun, issued a high-profile complaint to the commission last June, The Standard reported. TVB is the largest local TV organisation.
However, the two magazines argued that it was in public interest to prove Bosco Wong and his girlfriend Myolie Wu Hang-yee, and Vincent Wong and Chen were cohabitating when the two couples denied it.
According to Privacy Commissioner Allen Chiang, there are three criteria to determine whether the media is infringing privacy: the complainant’s reasonable privacy expectancy the degree of intrusiveness of means used in photo-taking and overriding public interest.
It is the first time in Hong Kong that the Privacy Commissioner has ruled a media organisation to have infringed on a celebrity’s privacy by secretly taking photos. It also ignited a public discussion on laws concerning the balance between press freedom and personal privacy.
Privacy issues are always sensitive in Hong Kong because the law also protects the media’s freedom of expression. It is in a heated public discussion because Hong Kong is different from other international cities. Once a colony of Britain, Hong Kong has mixed culture; both Chinese and Western, as well as conservative and open.
While Western readers might be more used to private photos in the magazines such as OK!, Hong Kong readers are still in the process of embracing private and bold photos of celebrities. Thus, news organisations have to adjust their content to readers’ values in specific cultures.
Image: The Standard