Date(s) - 20/06/2019
Surveillance Camera Day on 20 June (#cameraday2019) will be a national event to encourage a conversation about the use of surveillance cameras in modern society.
The use of CCTV in the UK, and its impact on human rights and civil liberties, regularly hits the headlines. Concerns are raised about the number of CCTV cameras in the UK, about the lack of regulation regarding their use and more recently about automated facial recognition. As barrister Louise Smith writes in an article on the About Human Rights website:
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerns the right to family and private life. This includes the right to respect for an individual’s home and correspondence. The right contained in Article 8 is known as a qualified right which means that there may be circumstances in which some interference with it is justifiable. This right means that an individual has the right to the level of personal privacy which is compatible with a democratic society, taking into account the equivalent rights and freedoms of others. Any interference with this right by a public authority may be subject to a test of acceptability.
The information commissioner has expressed deep concern about the absence of national level coordination in assessing the privacy risks and a comprehensive governance framework to oversee facial recognition technology deployment by the police.
In a landmark case, Ed Bridges, an office worker from Cardiff, claims South Wales police violated his privacy and data protection rights by using automated facial recognition (AFR) on him when he went to buy a sandwich during his lunch break and when he attended a peaceful anti-arms demonstration. A barrister for the commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, told the court the current guidelines around AFR technology were “ad hoc” and a clear code was needed.
#cameraday2019 is one of the deliverables of the civil engagement strand of the National Surveillance Camera Strategy and is intended to raise awareness about surveillance cameras and generate a debate about how they are used in society.
Of particular importance, is the pressing need for a nationwide conversation about how camera technology is evolving, especially around automatic face recognition and artificial intelligence and how surveillance cameras are actually used in practice, why they’re used and who is using them. This conversation is important, because we are all captured by the gaze of the camera lens and because surveillance camera systems are meant to be delivered in the public interest – to keep communities safe and secure.
There will be a number of different things happening on and around the Day.
The Doors Open initiative encourages organisations to open their video surveillance camera control rooms to members of the public so that the public can see, firsthand how they are run. Do they really “keep communities safe and secure whilst not intruding on their privacy”?
Surveillance Camera Factsheets
This will be complemented by a request for organisations to publish a surveillance camera factsheet. The factsheet will set out the basics facts of their system, including what it is designed to do and the number of cameras they operate.
The Day will be accompanied by a flurry of media activity, including newspaper articles, speeches, radio discussions and social media conversations. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the discussion and a number of organisations with an interest in surveillance cameras will be joining the conversation – every viewpoint and opinion is welcomed!
Further information about the doors open events, the factsheets, and how you can join the conversation will follow soon on Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s website.
Surveillance Camera Day is being organised by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s office in conjunction with the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy (CRISP). For further information please contact Professor William Webster or the Commissioner’s office.