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Outrage after Lahore cinema releases CCTV footage of dating couples

Privacy is a right, not a privilege, says Nighat Dad

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 1, 2019 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Sep 1, 2019 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

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.

“The cinema management has a lot of responsibility and need to adjust their policies and operating procedures,” Dad remarked.

Signboards in easy language should be placed everywhere inside the cinema with something like “Cameras are watching you” on them, she said. People will then be conscious about how they behave when they know for sure that they are being watched, she added.

She said people need to question the cinema’s policy and ask them how long they will retain their CCTV videos. Packages Mall in Lahore and Cinepax Cinema have agreed to the demands laid out in Sufi’s movement. However, Universal Cinemas and Cine Star have not reached out to them yet.

Cinepax CEO Mariam El Bacha released a statement to show their support for the movement.

The statement said only top management will have access to the CCTV footage, which is heartening because when many people have access to surveillance footage, it is more likely to get leaked.

A similar incident occurred in January when pictures of people in their cars, with their faces and licence plates clearly displayed, circulated on social media. People said the photos were taken via the cameras installed as part of the Lahore Safe City project and also raised privacy concerns.

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  1. Saima bashir  September 1, 2019 8:57 pm/ Reply

    Privacy is a right not a privilege is right. No one should have a right to socially mortify a person because of his private action. Even if you are a religious person or not, morality does not allow a person to ruin entire life of a person because of his one amoral act. Religious teachings also stress too keep privacy of the people, it stresses on forgiveness. So according to my view, it’s illegal to capture any intimate action to black mail a person

  2. M  September 1, 2019 11:13 pm/ Reply

    Act of couple is disgusting. They should be punished.

    • Rituraj Sinha (Advocate)  September 2, 2019 10:54 am/ Reply

      Why do you care what they were doing. You mind your business. People have freedom to do what they want to. Think as if she was your sister. Would u like if the video of your sister would have been leaked in public domain. Ladies are to be given utmost respect weather they are Pakistani or Indian or anywhere in the world. No one means no one has right to harm their image in public. This is punishable crime and Pakistan government should take strict actions against the owner of the cinema authorities who leaked the private video of the couple.

  3. Dr Usman  September 1, 2019 11:55 pm/ Reply

    If people are so much concerned about there privacy then y they r doing intimacy (which u reported) in public….. Watching their video on big screen is shameful but doing such activity is not shameful fr them in public place

    • Another Dr  September 4, 2019 4:20 pm/ Reply

      You are proving yourself such a shame to the Doctors community by showcasing your level of illiteracy. Whatever they were doing, right or wrong, doesn’t mean it should be displayed publicly.

  4. Shahzad  September 2, 2019 4:21 am/ Reply

    Isn’t it laughable that hypocrites are more concerned about the privacy rather than reacting to the shameful acts in a public place. What a country

  5. Dr MSKhan  September 2, 2019 8:56 am/ Reply

    Mr salman sufi . Rights doesnt mean that people should continue this type of thing and remained unchecked. Cinema theaters r meant to give entertainment for families. They r not places where u can … . For that there r hotels. So stop suporting this and concentrate on more pressing matters .

    • Rituraj Sinha (Advocate)  September 2, 2019 11:05 am/ Reply

      Sir i would like to ask you one simple thing, what would have you done if this video would have been of sister or daughter? I understand that the couple should not get intimate in public place but still that doesn’t give right to cinema theatre to leak their private video in public domain. And please let me clear one thing to you, that cinema is not just meant for family but for everyone. They can be friends, they can be couples, they can be anyone. Because it is no where written that cinema theatre are open only for couples. If this is so why don’t cinema authorities deny tickets to couples? Why don’t they put cc. tv cameras inside the theatre room? This is nothing but to just shame people. What we are doing as Pakistanis or Indians is that we are westernizing only our cloths but not our culture. So rather than westernizing our cloths lets westernise our thinking. I’m really sorry sir if u felt hurt by any of my words but when i read this article i thought to comment on this because we in India also see such incidents. India and Pakistan might have many differences but still the cultures are very identical in both the countries.

      • Yusaf  September 3, 2019 2:06 am/ Reply

        No we dont need to westernise our culture. We need to Sharia law in Pakistan. In Islam, we are not allowed to disgrace people in public and we should cover up their faults, and in return Allah will cover our faults in hereafter. This doesnt include terrorists dacoits, or killers of drug dealers or rapists etc etc that harm the society.

    • Muhammad Ali  September 4, 2019 12:06 am/ Reply

      What they have done is wrong. There is no second opinion in that. Both, the girl and the boy should be punished. But “What should be the punishment”??? Who is authorized to punish someone? You or the Cinema owner? Or is it rule of law who has the authority?

      What they have done is wrong, no doubt. But the person who has leaked this video has done the bigger crime. He/She not only break the government law but he/she also tried to ruined the whole life of these two. What if in future they both try to come to the right path and seek forgiveness from their Lord… But this one video will be enough to humiliate them and their family no matter how much they change their life in a good and religious way.

  6. Salim  September 2, 2019 8:56 am/ Reply

    That really is bad every one comes to relax in cinema. Please stop recording. Everyone has a right to their privacy. Thanks

  7. Zain Aman  September 2, 2019 10:18 am/ Reply

    We live in a society where marriages are becoming more and more expensive and difficult by the day. If you want to enter into a mall on a “family day” You just have to be accompanied by a person of the opposite gender, where husband and wife cant express any intimacy at home or in public. what else do you expect? being intimate is natural but there should be boundaries drawn. as for the videos, they shouldn’t have shared them. its a violation of privacy.

  8. Amer Ahmad  September 2, 2019 11:22 am/ Reply

    It should be easy to see that both can be and indeed are wrong. You have to respect social norms of the society you live in and at the same time you should not photograph and publicise such breaches which are mostly weak moments in hormone related charged atmosphere. The camera in public places are for security reasons not bad behaviour. These should not be used for public humiliation.
    It is quite permissible for a senior to politely ask the errant couple to take their amorous intentions some place else. (Or advise them to go get married, which is as good a dampner as a bucket of cold water especially for the boy).
    Under no circumstances can these recordings be made public.

  9. Rituraj Sinha (Advocate)  September 2, 2019 11:28 am/ Reply

    I don’t know whether i should be commenting on this or not, because i know people will be nationalising my comment but i couldn’t stop my self from commenting on this. Please don’t see this comment as Indian or Pakistani thing.

    Privacy is a big problem in India as well as in Pakistan. What the theatre authorities have done is totally wrong and against the Freedom of the couple. Why do we care what others are doing in public? What we are doing is that we have adopted the western cloths and their culture. By wearing western cloths doesn’t mean we have westernise our culture. What the couple did in public shouldn’t have happened, but does that give right to the cinema theatre to leak their private video in public domain? The answer is no. How can anyone on this earth violate the privacy rights of anyone? I have read many comments here stating that cinema theatre is meant for families. Can i please know where is it written that cinema theatre is only for families? And for an instance lets consider that cinema theatre is for family entertainment only, than why the hell cinema theatre give movie tickets to the couples who are unmarried or to the group of people who are friends? The answer is that, no cinemas are not just meant for family entertainment but for everyone who wishes to get entertainment.
    We pay to get entertain. So no one can say cinema is meant for family entertainment only. Secondly if cinema theatre is so culture protective place than why don’t they instal cameras inside the cinema theatre? So in all i want to say is no one has right to violate anyone’s freedom. If at all the act of the couple is illegal let Police authorities take action against it. But firstly the police authorities should take action against the cinema theatre who violated the rights of the couple. I just want to say one last thing that whoever has leaked this video remember one thing, you too might be having a sister, daughter, wife at home. What if such video involving his/her sister, daughter, wife was leaked in public domain. No one would have liked it. Think about the girl whose video these cinema theatre has leaked in public domain. Her has been ruined. What her parents might be going through and what her parents might have done to her. Shame on you, whoever has done this. This is a very serious crime on part of cinema theatre and i wish people should strongly object this act and i also request the Pakistan Government to take serious actions against the owners of the cinema theatre.

    • Qamar Zaman  September 2, 2019 2:11 pm/ Reply

      If the couples didn’t want their privacy breached then they should not have done such activities in a public place, cuz cinemas are by all definitions a public places. Furthermore if they cared about what their families would go through or what would become of them if they are caught, they shouldn’t have done it the first place. And God forbid if these couples were to be my relatives or acquaintances, this would not change my opinion. Cinemas are entitled to install CCTV cameras inside the theatres to prevent such activities, if they are punished in this incident then this would encourage such shameful acts in the future.

  10. Anonymous  September 2, 2019 12:00 pm/ Reply

    what movie were they watching BTW???

  11.  September 2, 2019 12:18 pm/ Reply

    I will say,such activities are not in Pakistan only. Every country are part of such activities or more than it. But the point is, the videos shouldn’t have been leaked.Everyone has respect and everyone has privacy.And as Muslims, we must live within our limits in public areas. We must control our emotions in such places.But in the end I would say do such activities in a private place and in a safe place.
    ” Do not film such videos on CCTV cameras. Which makes it fun for people even though such cases have come before. That people had committed suicide to save their honor. “

  12. Muhammad suliman  September 2, 2019 12:51 pm/ Reply

    The manager and owner of cenima should be furnished for this crime and our nation should not do such sham full act in public or in private.. Follow Islam teachings.

  13. Nida Bano  September 2, 2019 12:56 pm/ Reply

    This is not the cinema’s fault. These videos have been “leaked”, not “released”. There’s a difference that all you people need to understand. They will gain no advantage out of this, in fact, this only reduces their footfall. That being said, it has probably been done by their competitors in order to destroy the cinema’s reputation by probably paying off the people working there.
    Also, the government has made it compulsory to put CCTV cameras in cinemas. That means, EVERY CINEMA in Pakistan has these cameras to watch and STOP such activities from happening.
    The real victims in this case is the cinema itself. Blame the people who DID these activities IN A PUBLIC PLACE.

  14. Adeel  September 2, 2019 1:53 pm/ Reply

    I am gobsmacked that how on earth that video was shared to social media, absolutely disgusted with the couples but that was their own moral values that how stupid they are doing what ever they were doing on a public place, recording someone and then share that without proper consent is a breach of data protection and the management of Cinema should be taken into account and punish with fine.
    Not defending what couple were doing but it was disgusting that they feel necessary to record that video and share online.

  15. Anonymous  September 2, 2019 2:21 pm/ Reply

    So, no one has a problem with the act couples have been doing in public where families go to enjoy. But their privacy is a huge deal. I understand the issue of consent and leakage of footage but this really isn’t a big deal when your a Islamic state and you have given the moronic couples to allow pda in public.

    Highly disappointed in Pakistani awam.

  16. Nou Mug  September 2, 2019 2:52 pm/ Reply

    #PrivacyIsARight sounds fine until its complied by some limitations. You need privacy? sure, stay within the premises of your room, no one will sneak into it. Don’t spread this in public place and then expect privacy. Just imagine what dismaying image these daters had been portraying for the rest of people visiting cinemas to “actually” watch a movie. This one calls for stern action against the public involved in this derogatory act. Every country has boundaries of being liberal and citizen are ought to respect that!!!!

  17. Saleem altaf shah  September 2, 2019 2:56 pm/ Reply

    The cinema operators adminstration should be arrested and the cinema should be blacklisted, they have done a huge crime than those intimating in the cinema they have ruined their lives.
    There should be some laws and restrictions for publicaly exposing any one recording in social media or any other media sources being a pakistani its a big shame for us!

  18. M. Azhar Iqbal  September 2, 2019 3:51 pm/ Reply

    Privacy is the biggest issue and as far as concern about the staff should sign legal document for not to leak such videos but here must think that as an Muslim its a Sin to do such thing like that even the real couples (husband wife) does not act like that, here lots of things to think about it.

  19. mansoor mubeen  September 2, 2019 3:52 pm/ Reply

    While cinema authorities should have prudent in keeping and then deleting the recordings which do not interfere with their safety protocols, but at the same time these couples should have been reasonably admonished and advised in their own as well as for the benefit of society at large to respect the society norms. After all our culture does not allow and like such intimate acts in public place.

  20. K qas  September 3, 2019 12:20 am/ Reply

    Your society has a long way to go, at least start the journey

  21. Bint e saeed  September 3, 2019 11:08 am/ Reply

    As a Muslim we are not allowed to do such things. Home is best place to do what ever any two peoples wants to do. Pakistan is Muslim country not west so if I do this(I, m girl) or my sister or daughter so must be punished. This is right that we don’t published some one sin but if only one person saw it then. Let supposed if CCTV camera wasn’t there then many families came to cinema and they also have kids. As Muslim what our kids are learning from this. We don’t want west culture. And if we don’t stop the commitment of sin in publicly and let the Pakistan to be like west then our condition soon will be like other nations on whom now non Muslims are ruling. The power of Muslim is actually hidden in modesty. For nonMulsim it will matter only that if *your sister or daughter was on her place then* but for being a Muslim we concerned about two things one to stop the spearding of vulgarity and sin and second to stop the publishing someone sin. For a true Muslim the place of relaxing is not cinema, peace and calmness is existing in remembrance of Allah. Alhamdolillah I never went to cinema even never saw it. While I, m PhD. Alhamdolillah for being Muslim.

  22. Fazi Ali Khan  September 3, 2019 4:42 pm/ Reply

    Baat keroonga seedhi

    1. Cinema may camera [its for safety]
    2. Video leak [Ghalat baat]
    3. Their actions [Ghalat kia]

    Public places/family places per ye sub not allowed. Consensual tha Ab rona laga rakha hai privacy ka. Sufi agar teri beti ya behn ye sub kerti to pata chalta. Pesay bananay k liye dhakan jesi tweet ker di. Allah ko munh dikhana hia marnay k baad. Seedha bol k ghalat kaam kia hai nahi kerna chahiye tha. tu idher privacy ka rona ro raha hai.

  23. bdar  September 4, 2019 5:42 pm/ Reply

    ;D no body will do this type of Harkats ever from Now Thanks to the person who leak this video

  24. Anonymous  September 6, 2019 6:21 am/ Reply

    Cinemas are a public place and if you have such intentions, go to a private place. Don’t do it publically. You have the privacy rights but at your own hired place, not in public. If it has been shown to the people, better to mask the faces of the culprits so that they should have realized about their shameful act without being disclosed their identity.

  25. Anonymous  September 20, 2019 11:26 pm/ Reply

    Showing of love and intimacy PDA in Public place is an offence as per Law of Pakistan (Section 294 of the PPC states: “Whoever, to the annoyance of others; a) does any obscene act in any public place, or b) sings, recites or utters any obscene songs, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both”.). So they made an offence and must be handed over to authority when they are doing it. Leaking of video online is also a crime. as far as information about CCTV camera is concerned. I visited a lots of time and they clearly mention it.

  26. Syed Ahmed  October 31, 2019 4:01 am/ Reply

    Hide peoples faults and Allah will hide your faults. Muslims are supposed to hide peoples faults, not show them to the world, this is a greater sin than what the people did. These camera owners should be arrested.

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