How would you feel if someone could see your every movement? Many people actually think that it’s impossible, that it’s only possible in movies. However, it can happen in real life. In 2015, we heard about some hidden camera incidents in water parks, high schools and subways. Even right now, the hidden cameras are probably playing their role. That is to say, someone somewhere is being recorded by a hidden camera right now. Technology is developing day by day and some people keep pace with those changes without being conscience-stricken. We are living in a world where it is difficult to judge what is right or wrong, when it is so easy to record other people. Can you live safely in this world? Let’s consider how the hidden camera was introduced, why people try to secretly shoot a film, what ethical problems are raised, and how we can reduce damages in this situation.
Hidden camera, who are you?
The dictionary meaning of a hidden camera is, "a camera shooting a film of people who don’t know they are being recorded." According to ethics of media, a hidden camera refers to a journalist recording or shooting a film stealthily when they are not allowed to shoot a news source. It can convey a sense of vivid realism and tension to others. As time has gone by, the hidden camera has started to be used as a broadcasting production technique. For example, there is a program called <Hidden Camera> by Kyungkyu Lee. This program intends to invite entertainers and capture them in embarrassing situations. The program uses a hidden camera in order to gain the entertainers’ natural images and responses. Many entertainers were recorded by hidden camera through season 1 and 2. The program became popular owing to its tactful formation and ideas. However, some people criticized the program because it infringed on an entertainers’ privacy, just for laughs.
Recently, hidden cameras have diversified. People hide hidden cameras in some easily accessible things like pens, watches, glasses, hats, buttons, USBs and the remote control of cars. These items are easily purchased merely by searching ‘micro camcorder’ in portal sites.
The world of hidden cameras – someone filmed by a hidden camera.
We can often see warning signs like ‘Dangerous Area with Hidden Camera’ in subway stations. There were once only a few incidents when someone took a hidden camera into a subway. Now it can occur in any subway station anywhere. In addition, there are hidden camera incidents in water parks, high schools and hotel shower rooms. The incident of the hidden camera in the water-park shower room in August, 2015 was the talk of town on the web. A woman shot a film with hidden camera of other women in a water-park shower room. At that time, the video spread and exposed women’s faces and bodies in the video. Next, it occurred that a high school student shot a film secretly under the skirts of five young women teachers. The student pretended to ask a question and when teachers came to him, he shot a film secretly by using a noiseless camera application. The latest news is a hotel shower room at the Busan International Film Festival. A female documentary film director visited Busan. She told her story through her Facebook. ‘When I was taking a shower, a ventilation fan opened and a cellular phone appeared. I yelled at once and a person disappeared.’ People checked CCTV to find the criminal but the CCTV is so old that it didn’t shoot the scene properly. After that, the enterprise being in charge of guest rooms said that they would change CCTVs and room facilities.
In fact, a woman who was shot by hidden camera in the bathroom of her office, never thought that she would be a victim. She was worried if she should stop working for fear of her images being spread online. The police said, “Criminals have only to be punished but victims might also be fatally damaged since videos can be spread in an instant.”
The world of hidden cameras – someone shooting with a hidden camera.
A woman who shot a film secretly in a waterpark shower room stated that she received money from a man that she met on the Internet. The man sold a part of the video to others. They were arrested on suspicion of violating the law and threatening sexual violence. The revised regulation has a penalty of less than 7 years imprisonment or less than 70,000,000 won if a person shoots a film in public transportation such as a bus or subway, at concerts, gatherings, and other crowded places, or if they spread the videos. A light punishment given to a student provoked a controversy. The education office expelled the student from school but it turned out that the school allowed the student to transfer to another school. What is the mentality of a person who shoots with a hidden camera? Usually we say voyeurism is the cause. Voyeurism is a sexual perversion, also known as Scopophilia. It is a disease related to someone getting enjoyment from watching a naked person, sexual intercourse, or who gets caught up in a sexual fantasy. However, some of the people who were arrested look like they are normal. A psychology professor at Yonsei University said, "We should not regard this problem of hidden cameras as voyeurism or a psychopathologic deviation of an individual. We can’t prescribe which is legal or illegal since each individual has a diversity of sexual orientation.” However, it is certain that shooting a film secretly itself is abnormal.
‘Hidden’ runs counter to ethics.
As I mentioned before, a hidden camera is also used in media and broadcasting. The hidden cameras cause problems not only in shooting women but also in broadcasting. For example, the second amendment of the press moral code “prohibits the use of illegal coverage such as secret filming.’ The 35th clause of KBS’s main principle of broadcasting expresses clearly that “we don’t get cooperation of covering or shooting through disguise or trickery.’ MBC also has rules for hidden cameras. They permit restricted use of hidden cameras only for public news such as national security or when the value of the news story is bigger than privacy. Similarly in SBS, they said “people should gather the news fairly. They should not disguise their identity or pretend, except for the time when they need it, or they can’t cover with any other methods”. However, hidden cameras were used in <Zero Complaint> and <Hidden Camera by KyungKyu Lee>. For instance, in <Zero complaint>, a reporter shot a film by disguising herself as an assistant teacher in order to capture the realities of a day care center. At that time some people said that it’s OK to meet people’s right to know even if it infringes on personal privacy. In reality, <Zero Complaint> was examined by the prosecution. Thus the hidden camera is closely related to ethical problems.
We should stop people who shoot hidden cameras.
Crimes using hidden cameras have been increasing every year. There were 807 hidden camera crimes in 2009, but that has increased 8 fold to 6623 crimes. The National Police predict 8000 crimes by the end of the year, considering that 4567 crimes were committed by July 2015. What efforts are needed to reduce these crimes? Assembly member, JungSik Joe proposed an amendment in order to reduce the crime on the 2nd of September. This law stated that people should get permission to use a small camera. If this law is passed, authorities will be able to constantly manage owners and sellers. He emphasized that “trust among the members of society is a national property that we can only build with a lot of cost; the hidden camera makes people doubt others and breaks down this national property”. We can find the hidden camera with a detector that can detect the hidden camera. This detector is available on the market but it has limits. Or we can detect completely with the help of a company’s costly detector. Legislation for increasing punishment has already been proposed but it’s difficult to stop a crime with only this amendment. In particular, in the case of a minor, it is difficult to punish. Now the criminal’s age is getting lower and lower, so it is hard to punish them. A police officer said, "the punishment is important but the education related to school should be given priority. If it is hard to conduct a legal investigation of the person who circulates video owing to an overseas server, we should try to pull out the roots.”
The hidden camera is hidden with various disguises. If you think that it’s not related to you, it is a big mistake. I am not saying that you must live with constant anxiety, however you need to be aware because society is not safe enough. We can prevent damage by looking around places such as one rooms, motels, bathrooms, and subway stations. Authorities are also making continuous endeavors for citizens. It is said that the truth is sure to be followed and justice must be made, and the day will come when wrongs are corrected. However, you still might be worried. I think you who’ve read this article are already ‘stealthily’ liberated from ‘hidden cameras’. We should not let machines be a discomfort to us as well.
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