Chinese mull on privacy, surveillance cameras after breast-mauling driver caught speeding
August 26, 2011Jing Gao3 Commentsbreast grabbing brother, breast mauling brother, human flesh search, human flesh search engine, Law enforcement, online privacy, privacy, Surveillance, surveillance camera, traffic police
A Chinese driver held the wheel with his left hand, driving the car at a speed of 92 kilometers per hour (57.5 mph), while extending his right hand onto the breast of the woman in the front passenger seat. Both the driver and the woman showed full composure. Had they known they would soon become the center of the national attention, they would not have remained so cool.
Recently, a photo taken by a speed camera at an intersection of the driver’s somewhat comedic faux pas has become viral on the Chinese internet. Information on the photo shows that the speed limit imposed on the road is 80 kph (50 mph), whereas the driver clearly disregarded it. In addition, the two riders’ faces and the license plate number have been faithfully displayed without any pixelization.
Netizens sported with the driver by calling him “Breast-mauling Brother” or “Breast-grabbing Brother.” Human flesh search engine, an invention of Chinese netizens to piece together information and identify previously unknown people through collaborated and concerted effort, was also deployed. According to the “search result,” the driver, named Deng Jialing, is currently a resident in Mianyang, Sichuan province. The woman is a college student. Later on, Deng’s detailed information, such as home address and identification number, trickled out onto the web.
Deng said innocently that he is neither a public official nor an executive at a state enterprise. He is but the owner of a small private business. He admitted he was speeding. However, back then, there was no person on the front passenger seat. The woman was added to the photo through Photoshop, a photo editing and manipulating program.
As the initial wave of voyeuristic pleasure ebbed, more netizens have begun to question the legitimacy of the human flesh search for this matter and the panopticon-like network of surveillance cameras in China.(Read about Beijing’s policy to pinpoint and track citizens via cellphone)
Most netizens laid their fingers on the local police as the scourge. Some referred to examples abroad. User “Shen Dongjun” wrote, “In France, camera taking a shot of the front of the car is prohibited. Only photographing the back of the car is allowed. It is to protect the privacy of people in the car.” User “Power_Puff” wrote, “In Australia, there were case where a ticket was mailed to a residence, leading the wife to find the person next to the driver was not herself and divorce. From then on, only photos taken from the back can be used. Protection of privacy! Traffic police are not private detectives.”
With every nook and cranny of Chinese people’s lives outside their homes on the state radar, the episode has also struck fear into some that they may one day become the next “breast-mauling brother.”
西北飞：Who can be sure that he has not been caught picking his nose or scratching his feet in the public by the surveillance camera? If it is easily uploaded onto the Internet, can you hold yourself?”
风铃晚笑：Those friends who support the police to expose privacy, do you have any idea of a network from high up in the sky? Do you know the Big Brother is watching you every day? Anything you do at your home may be captured, let alone what you do on the street. If one day private photos taken by surveillance devices owned by those public administrations are allowed to be spread onto the web, then one day, out of the blue, you will become “XX Brother.”
The Mianyang Police Department argued that the photo was not necessarily leaked by the police, as “the police do not directly own and management surveillance device. Instead, it only retains right to request access to these electronic records. Therefore, the photo may not come from the police,” a police officer was quoted as saying.
The Mianyang Police Department announced on its official microblog that they “will investigate the source and authenticity of the photo, discipline the accountable party and/or individual with seriousness and with no leniency or indulgence, and inform the public of the investigation results immediately.”
However, no police officer at the police station that administers the intersection could be reached for comment. A sanitation worker said, “Bosses have all gone out for meetings.”
Some also blame the abuse of human flesh search engine. Web commentator “YERS” wrote on popular online forum Tianya, “Human flesh search is a concerted effort for social justice. Its significance is to lay bare the fake, the evil and the ugly. From a legal perspective, it is to find evidence of violation of good conscience, social justice or law and crime committed by the one being searched. Even if we participate in the human flesh search, it must never be from a gossipmonger’s standpoint…Law is the only criterion of whether or not to resort to human flesh search.”
Not surprisingly, many netizens are not apologetic or sympathetic.
云是风的梦：First of all, it (breast mauling while driving) is a dangerous act. It is not simply a moral issue. It poses serious threat to the safety of pedestrians. So don’t talk about privacy. Will you do it (have sex) without any concealment? If you have the nerve to do it, do not be scared of exposure.
南天國士 Bad guys do not have any privacy, just like thieves. If immoralities are not expunged, moral values will have no ground for existence.