14 November 2017

CCTV and Privacy

Author :
There are cameras all around us. ATMs, lifts, shops, traffic lights, parking stations all have cameras. Most of us even have a camera we regularly use on our phones. Everywhere we go there is potential that our movements are being recorded and monitored.
Most people accept this as being part of living in today’s world. We surrender some of our privacy in exchange for being able to conduct our lives without needing to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid this level of surveillance. However, the information being recorded is our personal information and for those public authorities owning and operating CCTV there are legislation and guidelines dictating how CCTV systems are to be used. In NSW this is found in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIPA), the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 and the NSW Government Policy Statement and Guidelines for the Establishment and Implementation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in Public Places (2014). Other Australian states have similar legislation.
In 2013 the NSW ADT (SF v Shoalhaven City Council) found that the Council had breached section 10, 11(a), 12(c) of PPIPA and until the council could comply cameras had to be turned off.
Section 10 of PPIPA relates to requirements when collecting personal information. In this section reasonable steps must be taken to inform:
  •          information is being collected; purposes of collection;
  •          intended recipients of information;
  •          if supply is voluntary or not;
  •          right of access to information and correction;
  •          name and address of agency to hold the information.
The breach of section 10 related to signage. The ADT found that the signage was not sufficient to “ensure that individuals are made aware of all the information addressed by section 10” To comply the Council had to change their signage. 

Signs went from:

To this:













The original sign was no different from signs displayed by most Councils in Australia. Additionally, the Council needed to install signs under or near each camera.
The breach to section 11 (a) of PPIA. This section concerns the collection of information in that the information collected is relevant to the purpose of collection, not excessive, is accurate, up to date and complete. The ADT considered the majority of personal information collected by CCTV was “collateral” and not relevant to “crime prevention”. This refers to the collection of images of all people in a location even though they are not engaged in the act of committing a crime.
Compliance with this section required the NSW government to exempt local government from section 11 of the Act with respect to the collection of personal information.
The breach to section 12(c) related to procedural matters of how guidelines were being followed by Council partners when accessing the live feed. This was addressed by reinforcing with Police the access procedure.
The Council CCTV system was turned off for four weeks with cameras being gradually restored as signs were updated. Many other Councils would probably still have signage that doesn’t comply.

Guest blog written by:
Community Development Co-Ordinator, 
Shoalhaven City Council


A Community Development worker with 14 years experience in the field. A community builder who works alongside others to create great communities building on existing strengths and assets. A creative thinker and problem solver.

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