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Gov’t (South Korea) passes legislation banning installation of all cameras at bathhouses, restrooms

SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) — The Cabinet approved a bill Tuesday that calls for banning the installation of all filming or photographing devices at public bathhouses, restrooms and other places vulnerable to privacy violations.

The legislation, which the Ministry of the Interior and Safety plans to submit to the National Assembly for approval, is aimed mainly at combating “hidden camera” crimes of secretly filming people for sexual gratification and other purposes.

The bill is designed to close a legal loophole as the current law bans secret filming only, not the installation of filming devices, officials said.

Under the proposed act, the installation of all such devices, including CCTV cameras, Internet-connected cameras, smartphones and wearable cameras, is banned at public bathhouses, dressing rooms, public restrooms and other vulnerable places, officials said.

Violations will be punished with fines of up to 50 million won (US$45,982).

The legislation came as hidden camera crimes have become a growing social problem.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of hidden camera crimes, which stood at 2,400 in 2012 rose to 6,623 in 2014 but declined to 5,185 last year.

President Moon Jae-in has also called for comprehensive measures to end such crimes.

Source: Yonhap News

Roseville man arrested for hiding camera in bathroom

A Roseville man was arrested last week after detectives connected him to a camera that had been hidden in a public women’s bathroom of a store, according to a news release from Roseville Police Department.

On Dec. 9, an employee of a store in the 1800 block of Douglas Boulevard found a video camera hidden in the women’s bathroom. The employee immediately removed the camera from its hiding place, and the business notified Roseville police. Detectives investigated and identified 30-year-old Aditya Vichare, of Roseville, as a suspect. They also determined that the camera had been placed in the restroom just a few hours before the employee discovered and removed it.

The camera had recorded video, but it was stored on the camera and had not yet been seen by Vichare. Vichare was not an employee and had no other known connection to the store, other than going there to hide the camera.

On Dec. 13, detectives contacted Vichare and arrested him on suspicion of using a minor to produce child pornography, because two of the victims secretly videotaped in the bathroom were juveniles. He was also arrested on suspicion of surreptitiously videotaping and recording people in a place where they had an expectation of privacy.

A news release on Dec. 14 said Vichare was being held without bail in the Placer County Jail, but on Wednesday the jail roster showed he was no longer in custody.

Source: Press Tribune

EPA chief sweeps office for bugs, installs high-tech locks

• The head of the EPA used public money to have his office swept for listening devices and bought sophisticated biometric locks for additional security.

• The spending items, totaling nearly $9,000, are among a string of increased counter-surveillance precautions taken by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

• The EPA’s Office of Inspector General is already investigating Pruitt’s $25,000 purchase of a custom-made soundproof privacy booth for his office.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency used public money to have his office swept for hidden listening devices and bought sophisticated biometric locks for additional security.

The spending items, totaling nearly $9,000, are among a string of increased counter-surveillance precautions taken by EPA AdministratorScott Pruitt, who also requires around-the-clock protection by an armed security team. The EPA’s Office of Inspector General is already investigating Pruitt’s $25,000 purchase of a custom-made soundproof privacy booth for his office to deter eavesdropping on his phone calls.

An accounting of Pruitt’s spending for the bug sweep and pricey locks was provided to The Associated Press by an EPA employee who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing concerns of retaliation.

 
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the spending.

“Administrator Pruitt has received an unprecedented amount of threats against him and while The Associated Press attempts to trivialize his safety, there is nothing nefarious about security decisions made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail,” Wilcox said Monday.

EPA’s headquarters in Washington is a secure building, with armed guards posted at the entrances and metal detectors and X-ray machines for scanning visitors and their bags.

EPA paid $3,000 in April to Edwin Steinmetz Associates to conduct the bug sweep. The purchase of the biometric locks, which typically work by electronically scanning a person’s fingerprint, was spread over two transactions earlier this year of $3,390 and $2,495.

Expenses under $3,500 are not typically listed on a federal contracting website that provides public disclosure of government spending.

EPA employees don’t typically deal with government secrets, though the agency does occasionally receive, handle and store classified material because of its homeland security, emergency response and continuity missions.

In an interview last week, security contractor Ed Steinmetz declined to comment on his work for specific clients, citing non-disclosure agreements. He confirmed, however, that $3,000 is his standard rate for a one-day job.

Steinmetz said he specializes in using sophisticated detectors to scan for tiny listening devices hidden in furniture or walls, as well as in other electronic devices such as computer mice or phone chargers. He can also runs checks to see if a phone line is tapped.

“I can’t confirm or deny EPA,” said Steinmetz, a former police officer who said he has worked as a contractor for about 15 federal agencies. “However, that would be an agency that if you have confidential information being discussed that could negatively impact their operation, they would want to know about it.”

Wilcox said that under the Obama administration, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also had her office swept for listening devices. Wilcox declined to provide the specific details of that spending, including the year and amount.

Asked about the special phone booth in his office during a congressional oversight hearing earlier this month, Pruitt said the purchase was justified because he needs a secure phone line in his office to communicate with officials at the White House, located just a few blocks away.

None of Pruitt’s predecessors installed a similar phone setup.

Source: CNBC