UK national surveillance camera strategy updated to address human rights, data and technology

UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter has updated the national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales with a strategy plan for human rights, data, and technology, IFSEC Global reports.

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) advisory panel will create a sub-group to explore issues related to law, operations, and technology, and existing advice and resources on human rights and liberties in related but external areas will be reviewed, as the first two deliverables in the plan. Both are targeted for completion by mid-2019. The plan also sets out goals to develop a strategy to determine and communicate the core principles of human rights related to surveillance cameras, and to integrate human rights strand work with SCC policy and other strand activities, according to the strategy document (PDF).

The national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales was published in March, 2017 to put privacy safeguards into place and encourage best practices by CCTV network operators.

The use of facial recognition technology with CCTV networks in Britain has already sparked court cases in Cardiff and London, but James Wickes of Cloudview tells IFSEC Global that the new strategy plan is an opportunity to change the narrative around surveillance cameras.

“Despite the scaremongering of campaign groups, I believe surveillance cameras can actually help to protect human rights if used correctly. From police bodycams which provide an accurate record of a situation for both parties to cameras in care homes that have been welcomed by both residents and their families and staff, the benefits they offer are clear,” Wickes says.

“Of course the public need protection from unscrupulous and unlawful use. This means limiting cameras to where they are genuinely needed, and then having effective processes such as privacy impact assessments which are designed into the technology and properly tested, so that our democratic freedoms and human rights aren’t abused.”

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