CCTV and Privacy
Having not been able to sleep properly for a number of nights and with a feeling of general listlessness I racked my brains as to how to get 40 winks in before the alarm went off at zero dark hundred hours (a.m). The Eureka moment hit me when I peered out the window and glanced at the Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) CCTV camera I had recently fitted for my next door neighbour. It then became blindingly obvious, as it would have done to anybody of course, I’d put together a little piece with a catchy title on “when it is and isn’t appropriate to use CCTV cameras”. The more I thought about it the drowsier I became. Bingo!
CCTV and legislation
For those of you who haven’t delved in to the fascinating maelstrom of domestic and European legislation pertaining to the above, you’ve missed an imsomniacal (not a word) treat. What started out as an ambition to complete a 200 word foray in to CCTV installations, optimistically finishing before Question of Sport kicked off on at 10 o’clock and with a scant nod to various bits of relevant law, turned out to be a late vigil in to the world of no conclusions.
I couldn’t have wished for a better start of finding a way in which to cure my sleeplessness by unearthing a Section of the Data Protection Act (DPA)with an even less catchy title than my best effort of (wait for it) “In the Picture: A Data Protection Code of Practice for Surveillance Cameras and Personal Information”. A 43 page relentless attack on insomnia – 44 pages if you include the bland title page, the colour coding of which resembles Arsenal’s away kit circa 1972.
Trawling through it all, the basic concept was that (1) CCTV captured images must comply with the DPA, (2) images captured must be relevant and useable and (3) installation bodies must reassure those whose information is being captured relates to the above. You know the score, all that “people have privacy rights etc …” and “don’t point the camera in the direction of your neighbour’s bedroom” type of rubbish. Scotland, of course, have their own Code of Practice (CoP), which I didn’t go in to, but am guessing says stuff like “we can now prove what’s under your kilt” and it is a treasonable offence if you point the CCTV camera “in the direction of England”. This is speculation and probably low level racism (I was born in Edinburgh so I have that get out clause) but I can update this information if I ever read that particular CoP.
If you want to put yourself through what I went through that very forgettable night here’s the link
Guess what? In true legislative style all the above is deemed “exempt” under Section 36 of the DPA when the CCTV installation is for personal use by a “pure” human being, say what?? So, in a domestic scenario CCTV cameras can be fitted with no regard to the DPA if filmed footage is not intrusive. But wait for it, the DPA is applicable and Section 36 becomes irrelevant if footage captures anything outside the property including sound captured by microphones. So, the answer to the question is the DPA relevant to domestic CCTV is both “yes” and “no”. Brilliant.
The link below will introduce you into the baffling world of CCTV installations and data protection in a way that I could never do.
I hope this has been a helpful, not so much as to be informative as the appropriateness of CCTV installations, but more on how to get good nights sleep. It appears CCTV installation is a minefield and the Code of Practice relating to minefields in Australia can be found below.