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August 17, 2010

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Locals okay with spy lens

A RECENT survey by Shanghai Morning Post showed that 59 out of 100 respondents believe it's reasonable to install private surveillance cameras to monitor public areas around their apartments to ensure safety, even though it may bother their neighbors.

The survey also showed that 34 percent of the respondents were not satisfied with the security provided by property management companies in their complexes. Many of them complained that they may have to install cameras themselves to monitor the areas surrounding their apartments to prevent theft and burglary.

A local lawyer Liu Chunquan advised residents to seek approval from their neighbors before installing the cameras. Current law doesn't ban residents from purchasing and installing cameras by themselves.

He said residents who use cameras to monitor their own property at public areas would not be violating other people's rights of privacy and portrait as long as they don't make the tapes public.

But if the cameras are installed to monitor private areas such as other residents' windows or doors, then the users would be in violation of other people's privacy rights.

"The problem is how you can tell whether the cameras are used for monitoring, or peeping, as most of the cameras can rotate to cover both public and private areas," said Liu.

The survey was launched last Thursday when a man was found installing four cameras to monitor the public areas around his apartment at a complex on Jinshajiang Road W.

The man, surnamed Yang, said by using the four cameras he could monitor anyone coming to his apartment. But his neighbors were uncomfortable, fearing their daily life could also be recorded on tape, so they reported him to the neighborhood committee. Yang finally agreed to adjust his four cameras to fixed positions.

A Shanghai Daily poll shows that four out of eight local residents could understand Yang's action.

"Maybe it sounds selfish but keeping my family safe is my first priority, especially when the property management company fails to do the job," said Zhou Hui, a cashier from Jiangsu Province.


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