Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Caught spying

Bosses are being warned about breaking the law by using hidden miniature cameras to spy on staff.

For the use of "pinhole" cameras is in sharp focus after Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang took a subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties to task for snooping.

Chiang found after an investigation that management subsidiary Hong Yip Service Co breached the privacy ordinance by its "unlawful and unfair collection of personal information."

But Chiang said he will not be penalizing the company as it has dismantled the eye-spy gear.

And Hong Yip bosses continue to claim they were not spying on employees by mounting a camera outside a changing room at a housing estate, and that it was to pick up trespassers in the car park. Still, two security guards had been fired as a result of their snooping.

"Covert monitoring is generally regarded as highly privacy-intrusive," Chiang said. "Employers should not adopt covert monitoring unless it is justified by special circumstances." Reasons can include matters like the theft of confidential data - but only as a last resort.

Warning against secret monitoring of employees, Chiang said overt devices such as CCTV cameras offer a legal alternative that in most cases is just as effective as secret cameras.

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