Have you been secretly ‘sniped’?

Raymond Lau
Yahoo! Tech Talk

The next time you’re in the queue for bubble tea or catching a quick nap on the MRT, beware: someone might be secretly snapping a photograph of you.

We’re not talking about regular street photography here – these self-named “snipers” have a less artistic intention in mind. Using their smartphone cameras or any number of devices with in-built cameras, they sneakily snap shots of girls in shorts, skirts, low-cut tops or women in general whom they deem attractive, and post them on a popular online forum for others to leer at.

The comments accompanying the pictures reveal the snipers’ ulterior motives. The woman in the top image, for instance was described as “dua liap”, a Hokkien term which references an ample bosom.

Another user posted a picture of a woman’s buttocks and asked other forum members if they wanted to pinch it.

A large number of the photos are outright indecent. These include upskirt shots and shots of people bathing or undressing in a changing room.

The thread in particular has been in existence since 16 December 2009. At the time of writing, the thread has 555 pages and a total of 8,321 posts.

A 30-year-old secretary who found out from her friends that she was a victim of “sniping” was shocked when she saw her own photo on the forum.

“I wasn’t even wearing anything revealing. I never thought there are such people around,” she said, adding that the picture was taken when she was on her way to work.

Other people Yahoo! Singapore spoke to also expressed their disapproval and disgust.

26-year-old university student Mr Kwok said, “It’s still an invasion of privacy. Not to mention you don’t know where the pictures are going to be disseminated or what will be said about them.”

A media executive and amateur photographer, who prefers to remain anonymous, said, “Normally in street photography if you want to take a specific person you ask for his or her permission. It’s quite rude to do this, especially for this sort of purpose.”

This is also a cause for concern among parents.

Mdm Tan, a mother of a 12-year-old daughter, said, “You start to wonder about your children’s attire, and whether it’s attracting unwanted attention.”

So if you’re out and about in public areas, be mindful of the people around you to avoid falling prey to these snipers. You never know when or where it can happen.