A taxi driver has been arrested by the police for uploading a photo of a passenger breastfeeding online after the incident sparked public outrage.

The 48-year-old man was arrested in Sham Shui Po on Thursday for accessing computers with criminal or dishonest intent.

The man posted the photo on a Facebook group for taxi drivers, saying: “Is this for real?” Many condemned the driver’s actions including the Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man, who often advocates breastfeeding. He urged respect for breastfeeding mothers and condemned the intrusion on privacy.

Following the backlash, the driver deleted the photo and changed the name of the Facebook account he used.

The police identified the driver’s IP address and waited below his flat to make an arrest. He was later escorted to his home, where police conducted a search. At least four phones were seized, along with the clothes that he wore in the photo.

Sources told Apple Daily that the police was investigating what device the driver used to take the photo, if he received permission from the passenger, and what his motives were.

The taxi driver only blurred the photo after a public outcry. Photo: Facebook.

Lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan of the Democratic Party told the newspaper she was glad the driver was arrested.

Previously, Wong launched a petition urging the police to investigate the matter. The petition also urged the transport bureau to review privacy issues in public transport, and requested the health bureau set up laws to make breastfeeding rooms a mandatory requirement in government and public buildings. The petition received more than 1,700 signatures.

The offence of “accessing computers with criminal or dishonest intent” is widely applied to a variety of suspected criminal actions involving digital devices. Craig Choy of the Progressive Lawyers Group, who focuses on privacy issues, said the arrest could be the first of its kind related to publishing images of passengers taken with taxi cab cameras.

According to the records of internet freedom concern group Keyboard Frontline, there were at least 30 cases reported in the media involving the offence since 2015. They involved issues such as using computers to forge records, obtaining documents from computers without authorisation, launching online attacks, taking photos of others with digital devices, posting online rants, and using social media to encourage others to participate in protests, among others.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.