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CCTV Cameras And Your Privacy

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
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How many CCTV cameras have you walked past today? If you’ve been shopping caught a bus or train, driven anywhere, or visited a new housing estate, you’ve probably been snapped. Look out. Big Brother could be watching…

What Is CCTV Used For?

Closed Circuit Television is primarily used to prevent crime (although critics say that criminals simply pick places which are out of range), but CCTV cameras also been used by employers wishing to check up on staff or ensure that customer service is up to scratch. They may be an intrusion on privacy, but they're now a fact of life.

Where is CCTV Used?

CCTV is permissible in public areas including shopping malls, motorways and housing estates. CCTV cameras have become more advanced in recent years and it can now isolate and track identified targets, recognise number-plates, and eavesdrop on conversations.

CCTV has spread in the last few years. CCTV cameras are now used not only on motorways, where you’ll receive warning about upcoming cameras, but also on cash machines, housing estates, and car parks. Regulations require that, where CCTV is used in a public area, there is a sign providing information for contacting the camera operator. These signs should be made visible when you enter a camera-monitored area.

How CCTV Technology Is Developing

Like other forms of technology CCTV is becoming more and more advanced. Work is underway to enable CCTV cameras to recognise types of behaviour that have been associated with criminal activity. This catalogue might include, for instance, shouting, pointing, or erratic driving. Cameras are already able to recognise an individual face and track it; the camera will communicate with its network in order to track one person as far as the network reaches, which has raised the hackles of some privacy advocates.

What are your Rights Regarding CCTV?

Quite simply, you have no right to prevent cameras from recording your movements and behaviour. The camera’s owner is permitted to install one or several cameras and keep an archive of footage that may include you, but (s)he may not use the footage to obtain information about you personally, or to observe your behaviour.

The Data Protection Act

In 1998 the Data Protection Act outlined the responsibilities of those using CCTV. However, because the DPA was designed to protect individual privacy, its guidelines do not apply to all CCTV cameras.

Provided you can show that you are not using the camera to analyse the behaviour (and invade the privacy) of any one individual, then you are entitled to put a CCTV camera anywhere on your premises. If, for instance, the owner of a small newsagent installed a CCTV camera above the till and recorded everything to a tape in case of robbery, this would not usually be relevant to the DPA as it does note violate privacy.

In a domestic context, invasion of privacy is in fact not an issue that affects privately owned CCTV. It is only an 'offence' under the Human Rights Act and that act only applies to the State. i.e. The Government, local government, police, parish councils, Health Care Trusts etc. In other words, an individual cannot infringe the human rights of another individual - in this case, the right to privacy.

A common scenario of privacy invasion using CCTV is when someone uses CCTV cameras to view their neighbour's property. As this is not actually an offence, the police will usually have to resort to using the Harassment Act to resolve the matter.

However, where CCTV cameras are installed specifically to monitor behaviour, identify potential criminals and track individuals, for privacy purposes they must be registered with the Information Commission. These cameras are subject to the DPA.

The DPA ensures that footage is reasonably captured and kept; it should be viewed by a designated staff member and not made widely available. The DPA also requires that the footage be made available to its subjects, where appropriate, and if requested. If you have installed CCTV cameras that will be subject to the DPA (i.e. you’re capturing information of certain individuals) then you can read the Information Commission’s Good Practice Guide online.

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Hi There I live in a communal flat owned by social housing. My home is above the communal bins and for over four years have suffered with antisocial behaviour with flytipping and littering. The landlord installed cctv inside the communal bins, promising to stop the ASB by monitoring the CCTV as the smells from the bins are severely affecting our home and health. Since the camera was installled in February 2016, nothing has changed. I asked the landlord if we could view the cctv to find out who was doing this to us as the matter was worsening but the landlord refused. They refused due to data protection, despite the fact I contacted the police to report the nuisance behaviour affecting our home and health. But the landlord has lied to authorities including the police and MP saying they monitor the CCTV every week and the flytipping and litter is picked up as soon as it is spotted. Which is untrue as we take pictures every week to prove otherwise. The landlord also,said the cctv is deleted automatically after a few days. Previous to this, the other CCTV cameras installed inside the communal hallway and entrance of our building were dummy/fake cameras which was confirmed by staff by denied by management. Do I have a right to view the footage if any available due to the ASB continuing? Thanks.
Hoops - 10-Jan-17 @ 4:52 AM
Nicky - Your Question:
My neighbours have installed a cctv camera on the edge of their garage as the live opposite me it appears the camera is aiming directly in my living room window. I don't feel the camera is pointed toward their driveway at all and I live around 30 metres away on the other side of the road in a cul-de-sac. They have also installed a security light that is facing my bedroom window and is continuously being set of through the night and disturbs my 3 year old sleeping it's a very selfish set up and completely unessecary in the placement. What do you advise please x

Our Response:
Really, the only thing you can do is ask the neighbours politely to avert the camera from your living room window, likewise draw attention to the fact their security light is invasive. However, as specified in the article this is not actually an offence, if your neighbours can show they are not using the camera to analyse your behaviour and it is used for security purposes. If you think the camera has been placed to monitor your behaviour and/or they refuse to re-position the camera at your request, then if you feel strongly about it, you may request a second opinion from the police.
YourPrivacy - 17-Nov-16 @ 10:43 AM
My neighbours have installed a cctv camera on the edge of their garage as the live opposite me it appears the camera is aiming directly in my living room window. I don't feel the camera is pointed toward their driveway at all and I live around 30 metres away on the other side of the road in a cul-de-sac.They have also installed a security light that is facing my bedroom window and is continuously being set of through the night and disturbs my 3 year old sleeping it's a very selfish set up and completely unessecary in the placement . What do you advise please x
Nicky - 16-Nov-16 @ 9:00 AM
i live in a block of leasehold flats and the management company have a cctv camera directed at the front door of one of the flats , the owner is in her late eighties , when this has been queried the reply they are there for staff and residents safety but recently one resident had a threatening note put on the car and was told that the cameras cannot cover all of the car park Is the company breaking the law if so what casn be done about it please
big al - 3-Oct-16 @ 1:31 PM
i work and live at a private members club and we have CCTV installed i have been frequently watched to monitor my behaviour and on an occasion when i was playing on the machines at the end of my shift whilst waiting for members to leave this was addressed with me i asked for the secretary or president to put their findings in writing but they refused and also in my own time i was watchedwhilst having a sociable drink with members in my 4 hour break this was later used against me and i was not allowed to attend work, im feeling like i live in a big brother house and don't know what i can do. Can you give me any advice please?
mojo - 1-Oct-16 @ 10:28 AM
Can cctv cameras be used by an employer to watch workers to see if they are doing the job correctly?
Hulk - 17-Sep-16 @ 8:06 AM
My neighbour parks his car across the end of my drive and after a recent allegation of his car being hit by a visitor to my premises has set his dash cam running 24/7 onto passenger side door window pointing straight down my drive and this also into my garage and side garden. I understand he wishes to ensure his property is safe but this is directly monitoring my young and ground from my address. If do example he set his camera up at his front door it would be pointing away from my house at 90 degrees and still show the length of his car and down into the close not into and on my property. Has he over egged it and infringing my rights if so what can I do to protect my own privacy ?
Big Bear - 3-Jul-16 @ 4:18 PM
A local primary school has just been rebuilt and one of their new entrances is a few metres opposite our back gate. CCTV cameras have been installed. At the very least I imagine these will monitor the rear of our house. Is this considered an invasion of privacy and what can be done about it. Thank you.
Andyut - 25-Mar-16 @ 10:31 AM
Hi, A few questions. We have a caretaker of residentional flatswho looks at the CCTV footage every working day. A few questions. Does the Managment Company need a licence? The caretaker has put up a notice stating that she is checking the CCTV to find out if people are smoking in a certain area is this legal? The caretaker uses the CCTV to tell residents off for small descrepencies.What can we do to stop this behaviour?
Nick - 19-Mar-16 @ 3:50 PM
As in neet question...is there an answer to this as ive found myself in a similar situation. Was accused of a crime but not found guilty. Have been told by other publicans that this cctv footage has been shown to them . Are they legally allowed to do this..tia
Bubblychar - 23-Feb-16 @ 9:51 PM
I recently went to a local pub and was accused of being in a fight. I know that the cctv will show differently. Since the landlord has been discussing the situation with other people and making up stories. Do I have the right to privacy?As I have not committed any crime and if so how do I go about making the landlord stop spreading rumours and using the cctv as a scapegoat?
Neet - 17-Feb-16 @ 5:07 AM
ex neighbour has blacked out dome ptz cameras .he can sit in the privacy of his own home and zoom into peoples bedrooms this can,t be right
angry - 3-Feb-16 @ 8:49 PM
@Crow - as specified in the article you are entitled to have CCTV, provided you can show that you are not using the camera to analyse the behaviour (and invade the privacy) of any one individual. It sounds like this is a gross invasion of privacy. I have included a link to the ICO which is the the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals, link here. You can report a concern on its free helpline 0303 123 1113. I hope this helps.
YourPrivacy - 23-Dec-14 @ 10:30 AM
I frequent a private members club and there is cctv on the premises. My concern is that the former secretary openly admits to watching this cctv in his home and also listens to conversations too, is this legal?
crow - 22-Dec-14 @ 1:26 AM
to bri the thing i would do like my neighbours have is with us is talk to them and see the footage of the area covered. i my self have cameras and can view the neighbours drive if they are on holiday as they ask us to keep an eye on the place for them but they trust us as a cctv installer that the information isnt misused and the information is only handed to the police once a crime has been reported to them. i then have a crime number and the police sign the relevant paperwork for their own viewing at the police station. i myself would just talk to the homeowner if possible and sort this out between you amicably unless you and ypur neighbour doesnt get on.
badger - 14-Sep-14 @ 12:13 PM
My son is a patient in a care home. he is not well and cant make his own decisions. I understand that every patient has a ctv (cam) in there bedrooms for all to see when the staff are sitting and observing in the reception area. I have seen it my self. I asked a member of staff this morning that this is wrong. he said my son had agreed to this. but my son is not well he has a mental illness not dangerous to him self they know this. they watch him sleep they watch him dress himself after having a shower. now also he is now masturbating himself so the head nurse tells me and they are now keeping him in and not allowed home becuase what he is doing. this is a private thing. he is a young boy never never had a girlfriend. surely this is a natural thing and should not be observed. please please tell me can I have this stopped can I help my son in any way to have to ctv taken out of his room
debs - 29-Jun-13 @ 12:13 PM
What rights do I have to check over video footage in a late licance bar and out side of the late licance bar of a eleven months a go?
messi - 17-Sep-12 @ 9:47 PM
My neighbour has installed 4 CCTV cameras on his property, one of theses overlooks my property including my bedroom and garden. What rights do I have to have this removed.
bri - 12-Jul-12 @ 7:57 PM
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