In March of this year, the Government’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, launched a new surveillance strategy for England and Wales. These new regulations attempt to balance the growing concerns over emerging technologies and privacy with the rightful need for security in public places.
Privacy Vs. Security
Porter notes that while many new technologies, such as drones and facial recognition, were impressive in terms of the scale of surveillance they should be able to provide, they do of course raise concerns over how invasive they may be.
As such, the new strategy addresses these valid concerns by stipulating that the use of surveillance cameras in public places should be ‘transparent’, so citizens can be assured that they are only being used to protect and keep them safe. Therefore, placement should only be used where there is a ‘legitimate purpose’ and where ‘proportionate’ to the need, while compliance with legal and good practice guidelines is necessary.
Does It Apply To Me?
While the new code specifically mentions ‘authorities’ in its wording, which includes police and local authorities, it also states that other parties which control and operate surveillance cameras in public spaces will be voluntarily making themselves committed to adopting the codes practice.
As such, if you operate CCTV security cameras in or around a construction site, to which the public has access, it is recommended that you are properly following the guidelines in the surveillance strategy so as to avoid any potential liability in the future.
How Will It Affect My Business?
Porter’s new strategy is not legally binding, so its effect remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the intended outcome is that public camera surveillance is used ‘transparently, efficiently and effectively’ and that all legal requirements are complied with.
As such, if you are already operating an ethical business and using surveillance for the right reasons, then the new guidelines should really only be seen as a positive thing and should not affect your organisation much at all.
As modern technologies emerge, it is important to be mindful of the strategy and ensure that you do not cross the line into invasion of privacy if you do choose to deploy any of new technology. The latest strategy should make the public feel more at ease, whilst ensuring organisations stay within their equitable limits – a win-win for both groups.