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CCTV & The Law

From the Experts - Chris Brogan

Neighbours From Hell in Britain has consulted experts within the CCTV field and this is the information they have for you.

Chris Brogan, MA, of Security International Ltd describes CCTV and the Data Protection Act:

"I am often told (and indeed read it in numerous publications) that if security is for domestic purposes then the Data Protection Act does not apply. Can I dismiss that myth immediately. The Data Protection Act most certainly applies to any processing of personal data, which would include CCTV images and details of persons accessing premises."

"However, the Act does afford certain exemptions with some of the processing of personal data that takes place.

Section 36 of the Data Protection Act states such an exemption.

However (there is always an "however"), consider the following.

Mr. Smith at 11 Acacia Avenue has a CCTV system installed which monitors persons accessing his premises. It picks up any visitor as soon as they enter the gate and only captures their images whilst they are on his property.

(a) Mr. Smith is entitled to do this.

(b) He does not need to provide a notice saying that the person is entering a CCTV controlled area.

(c) He is not required to provide a copy of the footage he has captured to the Data Subject if they make a request. However, if that CCTV camera picks up images outside Mr. Smith's premises, such as the entrance to his neighbour's premises or persons walking down Acacia Avenue, then he has to consider the implications of the Data Protection Act.

He must consider what justification he has in capturing the images of visitors to his neighbours, or those persons on Acacia Avenue. Note, I am not saying that he can't, only that he has to justify it. Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act lists six conditions that can justify processing of personal data. Mr. Smith would have to satisfy just one of them in order to capture those images.

Personally, I feel he would be hard put to find one of the conditions that would meet this requirement. Even if he proved me wrong, he would have to put up a notice to notify the persons walking into his neighbour's garden or walking along Acacia Avenue that they were being caught by CCTV camera, the purposes of those images being caught, and who was responsible for the processing. He would also have to provide a copy of the images if the Data Subjects made an access request.

Clearly the solution to this is to ensure that the CCTV camera does not pick up any images that are not within Mr. Smith's premises.

Extract used with permission from Chris Brogan's 'Home Security -v- The Data Protection Act 1998' Article.