The China Post news staff
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taichung District Court found a man who furtively snapped pictures of a woman’s thighs not guilty of any offenses, angering the prosecution and prompting the technical question of what must be digitally captured in order to be considered an invasion of privacy.
The accused man, surnamed Chang, saw the woman, surnamed Hsiao, in July while he was at the food court of a discount department store. Hsiao was wearing a miniskirt and sitting at a table when Chang slipped into the booth next to her. Using his digital camera, Chang aimed the lens at Hsiao’s thighs and snapped a total of 48 pictures. A kitchen employee witnessed the incident and quickly notified Hsiao, who called and reported the case to the police on the spot. Chang was taken to the police station and under questioning claimed he was a budding photographer trying to take artistic shots from under the table.
He claimed to be sorry for not notifying his subject, yet denied any intention of capturing her private parts, adding that he was willing to pay a fine. The Taichung District Court judge ruled that the discount department store was considered public space and Hsiao was a public diner at its food court. The pictures displayed only Hsiao’s crossed legs and bent knees, nothing beneath her skirt. The case, according to the judge, did not violate Article 315-1 of the Offenses Against Privacy law, which prohibits instruments used for peeping on another person’s non-public activities, speeches, talks, or “private body parts.” Members of the general public, interviewed by local media, were aghast at the verdict. A nurse surnamed Chiu said the rapid succession and volume of shots of the woman’s thighs was a clear indicator of the man’s motives. “Does it have to capture something in order to ‘count’ as invasion of privacy?” she asked. A fashion photographer surnamed Kang concurred, saying that any furtive shots of women should be considered a violation of privacy. “His [Chang’s] angle just happened to be off, missing the important parts; a not-guilty ruling is ridiculous,” he added. There were others who argued in favor of the ruling, citing that Offenses Against Privacy is considered a consequential crime, where failed attempts are not fined nor penalized. The public was split on whether “thighs” constituted “private parts.”