Clearly surveillance has both benefits and drawbacks, and the level of public interest and debate about both is increasing. Technology is advancing swiftly, and surveillance cameras are no longer simply passively recording and retaining images. They are now also used proactively to identify people of interest, to keep detailed records of people’s activities both for social (eg schooling, benefits eligibility) and political (eg terrorist) reasons.
There’s a real risk that, despite the benefits, use of CCTV can be very intrusive.
The ICO’s new CCTV code of practice continues its focus on the principles that underpinned the previous code of practice. However, it has been updated to take into account both the changes in the regulatory environment and the opportunities to collect personal data through new technology.
There is some fascinating information in the guidelines – specifically around some of that new technology, where three of the key recommendations are:
- Privacy Impact Assessments – a requirement that involves ensuring that the use of surveillance systems is proportionate and addresses a pressing need (see the
- Privacy Notices / Fair processing – a key issue for many of the new technologies is finding creative says of informing individuals that their personal data is being processed – particularly where such processing is simply not obvious.
- Privacy by design – for example, the ability to turn the recording device (audio and / or sound) on and off as appropriate to fulfil the purpose; the quality must be high enough to fulfil the purpose; the use of devices with vision restricted purely to achieve the purpose
The new technology specifically covered in the guide includes:
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (when to use it, data storage, security issues, sharing the data and informing individuals that their personal data is being processed – something of a challenge needing some creative thinking);
Body Worn Video (warnings against continuous recording without justification; the use of BWV in private dwellings, schools, care homes and the like – and, again, the thorny issue of informing subjects that they are being recorded);
Unmanned Aerial Systems drones are now increasingly used by businesses as well as the military (Amazon has stated its intention to use drones to deliver parcels …). Some of the key issues are privacy intrusions where individuals are unnecessarily recorded when the drone has some other purpose; the distinction between domestic and commercial use; providing justification for their use; the ability to switch the recording system on and off; the whole system of data collection, storage, accessibility, retention periods and disposal requires compliance.
Automated recognition technologies are increasingly used commercially to identify individuals’ faces, the way they walk, how they look at advertising and suchlike. Again, the issues of fair processing, degree of accuracy of images and their identification, storage, retention, transfer, disposal and security are all key to compliance.
If you are using surveillance devices to view or record and / or hold information about individuals, then it’s worth noting that such use is subject not only to the Protection of Freedoms Act (and its Surveillance Camera Code of Practice), and the Data Protection Act, but you also need to consider your obligations under The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
If you have any concerns about your data compliance in general or your surveillance camera compliance specifically, contact us on 01787 277742. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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