Time for stricter harassment laws?

Summary:A remarkable scolding incident filmed on a handphone has appeared on Web sites. In it, a lady is seen launching a verbal barrage at a commuter standing in a commuter train.

A remarkable scolding incident filmed on a handphone has appeared on Web sites. In it, a lady is seen launching a verbal barrage at a commuter standing in a commuter train. The five minute edited video seems to suggest a much longer period of filming in which the lady loudly proclaims in a mixture of Hokkien, Mandarin and English apparently stemming from an incident where some physical contact may have taken place in a crowded train.

Some pronouncement of the law is also spewed out by this lady (however, this should not be taken as legal advice--she ignored the long-accepted principle that some form of physical contact in crowded place as a defence to the tort of battery). A companion of the lady (whose face is obscured) videos the entire incident and posts the edited version. The man, being quite annoyed by the extended video-taking, asks for the video-taking to stop and for the matter to be settled in a police station but this goes on until train station staff intervened.

I think the time has come where this "in your face" video-taking needs to be controlled. I can imagine instances of celebrities, girls or even men noticing videos being taken of them in public for extended periods of time even after requests to stop. Singapore does not have a law on privacy which is the right for people to be left alone but cases like these make one re-think whether this kind of behaviour should be condoned further.

In fact, other laws for action to be taken, or at least considered, could be in place--an example is the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.

Section 13B of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act--Causing harassment, alarm or distress--Any person who in a public place or in a private place (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour; or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of any person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$2,000 (US$1,320).

I do not think that the provision has been used in this case scenario but the counter-balance for this offence is that the defence of reasonableness would weed out genuine uses of video-recording devices. Therefore, the end to paparazzi guerilla video-taping may be near.

Topics: Singapore, Emerging Tech, Enterprise 2.0, Hardware, Legal

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