Are your home IP cameras compliant for Data Protection?

Whether IP surveillance cameras are used for live viewing and/or recording video and images, there is a code that governs their use in public spaces. The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, which came into force on 12 August 2013, seeks to balance the need for security and safety with individuals’ right to privacy.

If your IP or CCTV cameras cover any areas beyond the boundaries of your property it will no longer be regarded as domestic processing and be exempt from the DPA (Data Protection Act). Essentially, an individual has the right to protect their property by using an IP/CCTV system where necessary, however, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) recommends that users of such systems should operate them in a responsible way to respect the privacy of others.

Indeed, complaints have been made to the police, ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office), and the SCC, from neighbours and other members of the public using pavements who believe that cameras are being used to spy on them and their families.

Here are some guidelines that can be followed, to ensure that you are DPA compliant, but please click on the link to the full document in the Relevant Links section below the article:

1. Consider why, or even if, you need an IP camera surveillance system

What areas of the home do you want to cover with a surveillance camera? And could an alternative method of security be used instead, such as improved lighting, or better locks etc.?

2. Consider the privacy of neighbours and passers-by

If you do decide to install an IP surveillance system, work out where it can be positioned to ensure minimal intrusion of other people’s privacy.

Will the cameras’ range/lens mean they overlook a neighbour’s property?

3. Transparency

Informing your neighbours about the IP camera installation is a good idea, to assuage any concerns they might have. You could also put up a notice informing people that surveillance/recording of certain areas is taking place.

4. Taking responsibility

If you are thinking about installing an IP camera system to be used for surveillance of your property, you are responsible for:

  • Correct installation
  • General running/operation of the system
  • Information that is recorded by the system
  • Ensuring that the information is not used for any other purpose than protecting your property

5. Storing recorded information

Steps need to be taken when storing any information recorded with your IP camera system.

Time and date stamps should be accurate. Images and footage shouldn’t be stored for any longer than is necessary to protect your property, and deleted when not required. And since you are responsible for what happens with stored information, recordings must be kept secure.

A lot of this is common sense, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to make yourself aware of the code of practice, as laid out by the governing bodies, and ensure your IP camera installations are serving both your needs, and the rights of others.

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