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Interpretations of interpretations hope to clarify UK CCTV, biometric surveillance

Interpretations of interpretations hope to clarify UK CCTV, biometric surveillance

The UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), released new guidance last month in an attempt to clarify the attempts to bring existing regulation on CCTV and surveillance up to date for organizations, and separately for residential use. Britain’s video surveillance sector has now had time to digest the new guidance and appears, on the whole, to be grateful for it. The UK’s surveillance commissioner has withdrawn from giving a speech at an industry event after it received sponsorship from Hikvision, meanwhile.

The ICO has created a simplified and practical resource for CCTV operators, including smart doorbell owners. The latest guidance even has a print-out-and-fill-in form for limited CCTV system operators to note whether they are complying with all the requirements.

“Building public trust and confidence is essential to ensuring that the benefits of any new technology can be realised,” states the guidance, “The public must have confidence that the use of surveillance systems is lawful, fair, transparent and meets the other standards set in data protection law.”

The guidance is intended to help operators remain compliant with UK GDPR and the 2018 Data Protection Act, but also includes the spirit of the regulation: “these surveillance techniques can also play an influential role in how people may behave and move around freely in public spaces. It is therefore important that the use of surveillance is not seen as the cure to the problems that organisations may face.”

The guidance covers workplace monitoring, body-worn cameras, facial recognition technology, smart doorbells, surveillance in vehicles, drones and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR or license plate recognition, LPR).

Secure Redact, a division of London-based Pimloc, which develops computer vision products for surveillance, has welcomed the guidance.

“We were happy to see the latest updates from ICO, they are starting to really get under the skin of surveillance, privacy and security, with lots of practical checklists to go through prior to anyone deploying AI into CCTV,” comments Simon Randall, CEO of Pimloc.

“It will also help countries who are looking at similar areas but who don’t yet have the policies and regulations in place that the UK does.”

The firm has produced its own summary of the guidance in an attempt to simplify further the updates.

Domestic CCTV guidance

In a separate, although overlapping set of guidance, the ICO outlines requirements for domestic CCTV use, also including smart doorbells. It mainly applies to anyone whose cameras are capturing video or audio beyond their properties, making them data controllers with accompanying responsibilities. People in the UK now need to put up signs to warn passers-by that they are on a Ring doorbell camera.

The CCTV User Group has welcomed the clarification and the ICO’s efforts to make people aware of their responsibilities in terms of GDPR and the Data Protection Act.

UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner steps back from event

The UK’s Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Fraser Sampson, has cancelled his appearance at the CCTV User Group’s Vision conference after the event accepted money from Hikvision, reports The Telegraph.

Sampson has repeatedly raised the issue of Hikvision’s alleged involvement in surveilling China’s Uyghur minority, mainly in China’s western Xinjiang region.

The CCTIV User Group said it had offered to suspend Hikvision’s involvement with the conference, reports The Telegraph, if Sampson and Hikvision could not resolve their differences, but that Sampson still chose to withdraw.

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