Following concerns in some quarters of the abuse and misuse of surveillance in public places by state authorities, the UK Home Office has launched a code of practice.
The code applies to CCTV and automatic number plate recognition systems (ANPR) reinforces surveillance must only be used when it ‘meets a pressing need’ and is ‘in pursuit of a legitimate aim’. Designed to allay public fear and garner people’s confidence that surveillance is deployed in the interests of public safety and security, and not as big brother spying.
The code of conduct, which private organisations are also encouraged to support, states the use of a surveillance camera system must:
- always be for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need
- take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy
- have as much transparency as possible, including a published contact point for access to information and complaints
- have clear responsibility and accountability for all surveillance activities including images and information collected, held and used
- have clear rules, policies and procedures in place and these must be communicated to all who need to comply with them
- have no more images and information stored than that which is strictly required
- restrict access to retained images and information with clear rules on who can gain access
- consider any approved operational, technical and competency standards relevant to a system and its purpose and work to meet and maintain those standards
- be subject to appropriate security measures to safeguard against unauthorised access and use
- have effective review and audit mechanisms to ensure legal requirements, policies and standards are complied with
- be used in the most effective way to support public safety and law enforcement with the aim of processing images and information of evidential value, when used in pursuit of a legitimate aim
- be accurate and kept up to date when any information is used to support a surveillance camera system which compares against a reference database for matching purposes
2020 Vision keeping you in the picture; you have been warned.