What comes to mind first when you hear the word Hidden Camera? The term was usually used when surprising someone with a special event involving a hidden camera recording. However, the word has more negative meanings these days. This is because they are mostly discovered in private spaces, like fitting rooms, restrooms, and subways to take videos of people in precarious positions. Many citizens in this country, especially the women who are the main victims of such cases, are anxious about the spy cameras hidden here and there. This reaction is natural, considering a recent report from the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency. The fake spy cam videos made and distributed by the Busan police were downloaded about 26,000 times in just two weeks through illegal sites. In addition, according to the statistical data “2016 crime analysis” conducted by the National Police Agency, the number of sexual assault cases using spy camera showed a noticeable increase from 517 cases in 2006 rising to 7,730 cases in 2015, which is more than 10 times. The spy camera itself is becoming a more and more serious social problem.
One of the most problematic points of those crimes is that the shape of spy cameras and the methods of hiding them is getting increasingly diversified every day. A lot of spy cameras are in the shape of daily necessities. It is not so difficult to find such cameras which just look like a ballpoint pen, a clock, a screw or a water bottle. There is even a spy camera which resembles a hanger in order to take videos in a fitting room. What is worse, they are not bought and sold in secret places. Any person can simply search and buy them through the Internet. One famous social commerce site called Coupang recently began selling a spy camera in the shape of glasses on its site. It has since become a best-seller product among the daily necessity category, which has drawn many worries and complaints from people. Moreover, people cannot relax even in their own house. To be specific, in heat of the summer, which leads people to wear revealing outfits at home, a new type of spy cam crime using a drone has emerged. Some people claim that a spy camera drone approached the window of their home and stayed for a few minutes, guessing it must have taken videos.
A lot of criminals who took video by spy cam regard their faults as a trivial matter. However, their behaviors are obviously deviations from socially accepted norms. Furthermore, the psychological trauma suffered by victims is serious. One representative of a company removing a video said that it is not just once or twice to hear suicide news when contacting the victims of spy cameras. In the case of widely spread videos, it is not only difficult to remove them all but it also costs a lot of money. For those reasons, some say that the nation needs new bills that charge the entire expense of removing the spy cam videos from the Internet on the guilty party.
Despite the severity of the spy cam problem, national policy is insufficient. Above all, there is no proper legislation to regulate the sales and possession of spy cameras. In addition, the terms of the punishment for the person who takes spy cam video are limited. The punishment for such an act follows the legal basis on Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, ETC. of Sexual Crimes, Article 14 (Taking Photos by Using Cameras, etc.) According to the article, the person who took spy cam video is charged with a penal offense only when the video magnifies certain body parts that make victims feel sexually humiliated. Furthermore, the severity of the punishment is too weak as well, considering the victim’s mental trauma. A person who distributed, sold, rented, furnished, or publicly opened the spy cam video is liable to be imprisoned for less than five years or fined up to 10 million won. In fact, according to the Korean Women’s Affairs Association data, about 72 percent of spy cam cases end up in fines. Even worse, there are people who violate the law intentionally, for the reason that the profit earned by uploading spy cam videos on web sites is higher than the penalty they should pay. In the meantime, in Spain, a man who placed spy cameras and took the videos of more than 300 women in a women’s restroom in a restaurant was sentenced to imprisonment for life, being condemned to total 333 years of imprisonment which was the sum of punishment for approximately 120 people’s respective cases. Korea has a relatively weak policy for this problem, so legal support is urgently needed.
About the spy camera crimes which have weak prevention, punishment and regulation system, professor Kim Jeong-ho of the Social Welfare Department in Incheon University said that “The fact is, it is dangerous, but there is no law to manage this problem. Even if there are some penalties, people are more likely to risk themselves because the amount of money earned by spy cam videos can easily exceed that of the fine imposed. It is necessary to have a law to manage sales of spy cam and pay attention to spy cam crimes.” Reflecting the rising concerns, the new government has expressed plans to actively promote the system. In collaboration with major portal sites such as Naver, Kakao, and Google, the government has decided to strengthen the system for deleting, blocking and restricting the videos which violate human rights. Accordingly, the government spent 700 million won on counseling the victims of spy cameras and for deleting videos. However, the problem is not to be solved by the nation alone. Once citizens have a mature civic awareness for the problem, along with this governmental effort, the damage of spy camera crime will be reduced more rapidly
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