It’s no mystery that CCTV cameras are one of the most popular technologies in the modern age. As CCTV cameras have developed over time to become smaller, cheaper, and more effective at what they do, their use has increased exponentially along with their popularity.
However, we should also consider where we can place these camera systems so that they don’t invade people’s privacy and hopefully limit the number of allegations flying around about misuse of CCTV surveillance. But it is not only about knowing where to point your CCTV — but you also must know about the laws surrounding CCTV systems before installing them.
Even if you have already installed a security camera and have not reviewed this information before, it is not too late to find out. This guide also applies to similar technology, such as video-equipped doorbell devices.
A CCTV system includes the camera, storage, recording and all associated equipment.
In this article we are going to take a deep dive into all the legalities surrounding CCTV, explaining them and offering solutions to those who might be concerned they are breaking the law.
ON A SIDE NOTE, THIS GUIDE IS MORE ACCURATE FOR THE UK AND EU COUNTRIES
Information Commissioner’s Office
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is a non-departmental public body that exists to protect the rights of the public when it comes to their data privacy and push public bodies to be more open about the data they collect and where they use it. It is sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.
Their role is to regulate and enforce the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). If you’re installing CCTV at home and it captures places like your neighbours’ property, shared spaces, or public areas, then you should be aware of these regulations and we encourage you to have a read through the links provided previously.
But we would like to provide some information on these laws in a few sentences:
GDPR — this is the most well known and toughest data privacy and security law. It was passed by the European Union (EU) but applies to any country that handles data related to the people in the EU. This means that if you are using CCTV in the US, this law wouldn’t concern you, however, if you live in an EU country then you must follow these regulations.
If you were to break this law then a penalty will follow. This could be tens of millions of euros which means that there’s really no point in getting a CCTV camera if you don’t follow these rules.
DPA — This is more specific to the UK. While GDPR would apply less to the use of CCTV in this country, DPA would be a regulation that you absolutely must pay attention to. This law basically controls how an individuals personal data is used.
Best locations for CCTV
As a little tip on us, we have collated some of our information on where the best places to put your CCTV are, according to our expert opinions. Whilst you don’t have to have these areas covered, we would definitely recommend it as statistically they are the best places to have CCTV.
Did you know by far the most amount of burglars get access to the house through the front door, in fact, as many as 34% of burglaries happen through this entrance, that’s more than a third of all burglaries just waltz in through the front door.
Having a camera in this situation pointed at the front door protects you from this possibility as it can immediately catch the culprit and may make them leave once they spot it.
Do I need permission to put up CCTV?
Generally speaking, no, you do not need permission to put up CCTV, however, this is dependent on the situation you are in.
If you own the property you are putting the CCTV in then you can do this without any kind of repercussions as long as you are filming just your space and no areas which could encroach on other people such as public footpaths.
You are also legally allowed to use security cameras at any public space that you would otherwise have permission to film from.
However, if you are filming anything that is beyond your private boundaries then your footage will be subject to data protection laws, it’s important to note that just filming these areas is not illegal in itself.
When filming anything you don’t explicitly own you are therefore considered a “data controller” and as such are subject to certain data protection laws.
The gist of the data protection law states that for whatever device you are using to capture footage, in this case, a security camera, you must have a legitimate, justifiable reason for doing so.
This obviously varies from place to place but as an example, you may run a bar and want to install CCTV just outside the front door monitoring the entrance. You have done this due to several bar brawls which happen outside your doors.
This would be a justifiable reason as it is used for a purpose that isn’t directly tied with gathering other peoples data but is instead used to protect your property.
You also need to make sure you stay on top of your CCTV footage, deleting it when it no longer serves its purpose. In this case, you might have an auto-deletion set after 6 weeks of recording footage as, by that point, any events which might have occurred on CCTV footage would have already been dealt with.
Can I put CCTV up outside my house?
You are allowed to put CCTV up outside your house, however, you have to make sure you are recording only property that you own else you would be subject to data protection laws.
This is due to the fact that you would be recording information you don’t own, such as your neighbour’s house or people passing by on public footpaths, and as such would be classified as a data collector. You would also need to make it clear to everyone that they might be caught on CCTV, usually, this is done through the use of signage around your house.
Using CCTV as part of a business
There are several laws associated with the use of CCTV as part of a business, a lot of them coincide with the data protection laws that homeowners also have to abide by when using CCTV.
We are aware that CCTV can be pretty expensive on a larger scale such as for a business with several offices or a large construction site, therefore, making sure you are compliant with various laws is incredibly important
Below we discuss several aspects of using CCTV as a business and how you can make sure you stay in the legal green.
Employee’s have several rights when it comes to CCTV and your collection of data on them, these include but are not limited to:
- Having the right at any time to request the data held on them and why it is collected
- Ensuring all CCTV monitoring is appropriate and not excessive (i.e. monitoring them in inappropriate places)
- Employers must not act in a way that will destroy or damage mutual trust with the employee
Making sure you are open and upfront with your employees about the CCTV you have installed and working in your business is the easiest way to avoid any legal issues.
Any requests for access to the footage should also be duly noted as the DPA requires you to record all access to CCTV footage.
Discreetly filming your employees should be avoided at all costs except in exceptional circumstances. These would be where you can decidedly and justifiably prove that you would need CCTV in these areas.
As an example, if you have experienced break-ins in the past in a given area that might intrude on employee rights, ensure they are explicitly aware of where you are putting the cameras and why you are putting them there.
Otherwise, you need to make sure you check that where you are putting up cameras does not intrude on their human rights to privacy, without the proper due diligence you could easily see a law suit coming through the door.
Consequences of breaking the law as a business
There are serious penalties for breaking the law as a business when it comes to CCTV filming, due to several acts including the DPA, the FOI, the POFA and the HRA you could see fines of up to £500,000 and jail time.
In these instances you would also have tarnished the reputation of your business as it is a serious and egregious violation of your human rights, preventing other people from working with/for you.
If you have any other thoughts on CCTV laws or any specific experience with them in the past, let us know in the comments down below!
Interested in getting a CCTV camera for yourself? Check out our review of the QVIS P400 CCTV Camera