Information Commissioner publishes updated CCTV code of practice
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently published the updated CCTV code of practice, warning operators that surveillance cameras must only be used as a necessary and proportionate response to a real and pressing problem.
The updated code includes a look at the data protection requirements placed on operators of new and emerging surveillance technologies, including drones and body worn video cameras. It also explains how CCTV and other forms of camera surveillance can be used to process people’s information.
Furthermore, the guidance explains the issues that operators should consider before installing such surveillance technology, the measures that organisations should have in place to make sure excessive amounts of personal information aren’t being collected and the steps organisations should have to make sure the information is kept secure and destroyed once it is no longer required.
The ICO’s CCTV Code of Practice complements the provisions in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, which applies to police forces, local authorities and police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, as described in the Protection of Freedoms Act.
The Information Commissioner’s Office guidance covers a wider area, as the requirements of the Data Protection Act apply to all sectors processing personal information across the whole of the UK, including the private sector.
ICO Head of Strategic Liaison, Jonathan Bamford, said:
“The UK is one of the leading users of CCTV and other surveillance technologies in the world. The technology on the market today is able to pick out even more people to be recorded in ever greater detail. In some cases, that detail can then be compared with other databases, for instance when automatic number plate recognition is used. This brings new opportunities to tackle problems such as crime, but also potential threats to privacy if they are just being used to record innocent members of the public without good reason.
“Surveillance cameras should not be deployed as a quick fix, but a proportionate response to a real and pressing problem. Putting in surveillance cameras or technology like automatic number plate recognition and body worn video is often seen as the first option, but before deploying it you need to understand the problem and whether that is an effective and proportionate solution. Failure to do proper privacy impact assessments in advance has been a common theme in our enforcement cases.”
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