Pakistani cinema releases CCTV footage of dating couples

Pakistanis are questioning their privacy rights after a cinema in Lahore released surveillance footage of couples.

The videos showed them engaging in intimacy and people are outraged that the videos were taken in the first place. Former director-general of the Punjab chief minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit and activist Salman Sufi was the first to highlight the issue on Twitter.

“Just found that video recordings of citizens from cinema halls in Pakistan have been shared around. This is not acceptable and is a violation of [the] law. We demand that all theatres/public places delete all video recordings that have no recorded safety threat as soon as possible,” he wrote.

He also said a non-disclosure agreement should be added to every ticket that is purchased, which will give citizens the right to not allow the management to keep their recordings. “This is a serious breach of our privacy right and can never be allowed,” he said.

Nighat Dad, a lawyer and digital rights activist, also spoke about the violation of privacy and said there is a lack of awareness about it. “[There is] no accountability around how companies, telecom, public bodies, ISPs retain, process or share citizens data,” she wrote.

She told SAMAA Digital that these incidents have happened in the past but no one took any action against the cinemas. “Nobody speaks up because there is so much shame attached to it,” she said. The lives of the people in the videos have been ruined, she added, urging the need for a data protection law and privacy commission. “Privacy is a right, not privilege.”

Dad said the long-term solution is a legislation protecting people’s rights. “Awareness sessions should be conducted in schools, colleges and offices to help people know about their rights or who should they reach out to,” she suggested.

On Twitter, Sufi said he intends to file a lawsuit against the establishment of the theatre behind the act. He launched the movement #PrivacyIsARight to safeguard the privacy of Pakistanis with a specific set of demands.

And while privacy laws are imperative, the episode has also sparked a debate about whether people should engage in such behaviour in a public place.”Granted leaking such videos is wrong but what about public indecency? I mean cinema is a pretty public place and to be doing such acts there…should account for something,” tweeted one person.

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