Danny | 23.06.2007 21:25 | Technology
Someone asked how to find out more about which CCTV systems are illegal so I asked the Information Commisioners Office, who just replied.
Requirement to Register:
"The UK has more public and private CCTV systems per person than anywhere else in the world. Because of this, it's an area in which we're taking a great deal of interest. If you have a very basic CCTV system, its use may not be covered by the Data Protection Act. For example, if you're a small shopkeeper with a couple of cameras you can't move remotely which record whatever the system picks up and only give the recorded images to the police as a result of an incident in your shop, then you're not covered by the Act. However, if your system is more advanced and allows you to zoom in on an individual member of staff whose behaviour is causing you concern, or you use cameras to monitor the movements and activities of your workforce, you'll need to inform us. You'll also need to let us know if you give the recorded images to anyone other than the police or a similar law enforcement agency. The highly sophisticated CCTV systems used in large shops, railway stations, town centres and other places where large numbers of people gather are designed to focus on particular people or identify criminal activity. These types of images are covered by the Act, but if a general scene is recorded without an incident occurring, the pictures are not covered.
In summary, if the image recorded is aimed at learning about a particular person's activities, then it's covered by the act."
The search page is here:
I've just been playing around with their database. This database contains ALL DP records so you have to look out for mention of CCTV. The first thing I notice is it isn't very well programmed. You have to put the postcode in with a space between the two parts of the postcode so SW11AA doesn't work, but SW1 1AA does. [As an aside, this is the postcode for Fuckingham Palace, which returns THE PRIVATE SECRETARY FOR THE HOUSEHOLD OF HRH THE PRINCESS ROYAL, and one of the dataclasses Princess Ann records is 'Sexual Life' - I would love to see the subcategories she records for her employees sexual life ]. You can search on the first part of a postcode ie SW1 but if more than 100 records are found then none are returned and you are asked to refine your search. Again, sloppy, sloppy programming - I doubt any private or activist database would be this hard to search so it almost seems half-hearted, 'security through obscurity'.
So I started searching on CCTV systems I know about. I searched on the postcode of an industrial estate that is ringed with a sophisticated CCTV system, The individual companies CCTV within that estate were returned, but no mention was made of the estates CCTV. I don't know why and will submit a further question to the ICO about this, but at best it takes them weeks to respond. The cameras are obviously sophisticated not to be exempt from the various acts. It may be a police system and perhaps these are exempt, or it may be one of the 90% illegal systems. I'll ask the ICO, and if I get no intelligible response, I'll test it by breaking one of the cameras and waiting for the police to respond. Here is a sample record for a legal CCTV system - I wonder what would happen if someone committed a criminal act on the 22nd of October at that location ? There must be a lot of registered systems whose registrations are about to expire...
Registration Number: Z5785977
Date Registered: 22 October 2001 Registration Expires: 21 October 2007
Data Controller: WOODS GARAGE LIMITED
This register entry describes, in very general terms, the personal data being processed by:
WOODS GARAGE LIMITED
This register entry contains personal data held for 1 purpose(s)
Crime Prevention and Prosecution of Offenders
Crime prevention and detection and the apprehension and prosecution of offenders.
Data Controllers further description of Purpose:
INCLUDES THE USE OF CLOSED-CIRCUIT TELEVISION FOR THE MONITORING AND COLLECTION
OF SOUND AND/OR VISUAL IMAGES FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAINTAINING THE SECURITY OF
PREMISES, FOR PREVENTING CRIME AND FOR INVESTIGATING CRIME.
Data subjects are:
Customers and clients
Offenders and suspected offenders
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
THOSE INSIDE, ENTERING OR IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE AREA UNDER
Data classes are:
Goods or Services Provided
Offences (Including Alleged Offences)
Criminal Proceedings, Outcomes And Sentences.
SOUND AND/OR VISUAL IMAGES
PERSONAL APPEARANCE AND BEHAVIOUR
Sources (S) and Disclosures (D)(1984 Act). Recipients (1998 Act):
Data subjects themselves
Business associates and other professional advisers
Employees and agents of the data controller
Suppliers, providers of goods or services
Persons making an enquiry or complaint
None outside the European Economic Area
Statement of exempt processing:
This data controller also processes personal data which is exempt from notification