Secretary for Security John Lee has said that the government was anxious to bring forward a new law against voyeurism as soon as possible. It follows a decision by the top court which said that a law currently used by the government cannot be used to deal with the offence.
Last week, the Court of Final Appeal ruled that section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance – “accessing a computer with criminal or dishonest intent” – was not meant to cover people using their own tech devices.
The law had previously been used to prosecute people taking upskirt photos and other voyeuristic images.
At a Legislative Council panel meeting on Friday, lawmaker Claudia Mo asked the government if was planning any new measures to deal with cases of voyeurism.
Lee said in response that a new law must be enacted: “We are nervous and anxious.”
He said the government would actively look into proposals after the Law Reform Commission issues its suggestions for new laws against voyeurism.
The Commission launched a consultation last year and examined whether to set up a new law.
IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said the government had abused the “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent” offence for years, before the Court of Final Appeal said it could not be used in the current way.
Mok criticised the government for delaying the enactment of a new law against voyeurism, even after the Law Reform Commission had suggested the government do this years ago.
Lee said that, before the Court of Final Appeal made its decision on section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance, previous cases using the law had been accepted by the courts.
“One cannot say that we had bad intentions in making our decisions at the time – either the Department of Justice or the court – [as they used their] understanding of the law at the time,” Lee said.
Mok said Lee’s comment was blaming lower courts, instead of admitting the government had abused the law to prosecute people.
He also asked how many cases would be affected by the Court of Final Appeal ruling. Lee said he did not have the number and the government would provide it later.
Upskirt photography became an offence this week in England and Wales following a campaign by a woman who was targeted at a music festival, according to the BBC.
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