SEPT 23, 2001 SUN
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Taiwan models up in arms over 'X-ray' cameras

The devices can 'see through' clothing and are used by voyeurs who have posted photos on the Net

By Lawrence Chung

TAIPEI - Enraged Taiwanese models are calling for government action to stop voyeurs from taking pictures in fashion shows with the use of infrared cameras that expose the models' bodies.

They warn that pictures of even President Chen Shui-bian and Vice-President Annette Lu might also be posted on the Internet one day revealing 'everything' under their clothes.


They were indignant after seeing naked pictures of themselves, even though they were clothed, posted on pornographic and even some regular Internet sites.

Some celebrities have also cried foul for having been exposed in this way.

'It's outrageous, and we've got to do something to stop it,' said local fashion model Wu Meng-lun.

'Being professionals, we do not mind exposing some parts of our bodies in undergarment or swimsuit shows. But it's totally unacceptable that some people would deliberately use an infrared camera to take photos of us,' she told The Sunday Times.

Ms Chiang Yin-chi, spokesman for the Unique International Model Agency, said local models are worried that they might be targeted the same way.

'The most we can do is disallow cameras and forbid viewers at our shows from taking pictures,' she said.

'But this is not the effective way to stamp out the act. The use of such cameras should have been controlled in the first place. Otherwise, celebrities, including government leaders, would be victimised.'

Police said it would be difficult to prevent the use of infrared cameras without any regulation banning them.

Lawyer Sam Hsu, however, said offenders who distributed or posted the infrared-captured pictures in cyberspace can be hauled to court.

Ms Wu said the government must introduce a Bill targeting specifically video and camera voyeurs instead of using an omnibus ruling to nail them down.

'In Japan and the US, there are laws against video or camera voyeurs. Why can't we have one here, since such an activity has already caught on?' she asked.

Sales of infrared devices have jumped 20 per cent in the past six months, said a camera-shop owner who declined to be named.

The shop owner said Sony created a stir three years ago when it first marketed infrared cameras.

Unfortunately, most of the buyers were interested in the cameras for the wrong reasons.

Sony later altered the lighting function of the camera so that it could not be used in the daytime.

But the shop owner said this function can be restored with a simple device that costs a mere NT$5,000 (S$250).

Also, by spending NT$1,000 to NT$2,000, one can have filters and combination lenses installed in the latest Digital 8 camera to get the see-through effect.

The shop owner said the cameras worked best on dark clothing of nylon or synthetic fabrics, but not on cotton.

'Putting on cotton underwear or thick clothes is the safest way for self-protection,' he said.

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