Regional daily: Keep in mind law when installing security cameras

Suur-Posti 20 in Pärnu, site of the security camera in question. Google Street View is considered legal in most European countries, though individual faces and car license plates are blurred out. Source: Google Street View

Questions surrounding the placing of a security camera facing a Pärnu street intersection have brought the issue of legal requirements surrounding the use of such tech, including when affixed to private residential buildings and regardless of any criminal activity which may prompt such a move, into focus, regional daily Pärnu Postimees reports.

Maarja Kirss, adviser at the Data Protection Inspectorate (AKI), says security cameras whose fields of vision when operating would allow capturing images passers-by are an inevitability in built-up areas, though nonetheless, attention should be paid as to why and where they are installed and that this is done legally, which includes a requirement to place a visible notice that a security camera is operating in the area – the relevance of the issue is demonstrated by the amount of people approaching the AKI on the matter, she said, particularly with regard to cameras affixed to private houses.

The main points to consider are, Pärnu Postimees reported (link in Estonian) that: Video surveillance constitutes a strong invasion of privacy, and as such the presence of cameras should be clearly labeled, individuals are entitled to ask for information on the processing of any recording they may have appeared in, and security cameras must not be used for purposes other than intended – including placing images on social media.

Videos and images sometimes appear on neighborhood watch groups on Facebook, for instance, often relating to alleged crimes.

The Pärnu Postimees piece referenced a security camera on Suur-Posti 20, actually not a residential building but one housing the local Transport Board (Transpordiamet) office, and which covers an intersection, both sidewalks and road, and has inadequate public notification signs which require replacing, local authorities say.

Signage must be such that passersby can see it before they enter the zone captured by a camera – which in this case had been installed due to repeated incidents of crime – not during or after, since individuals may base their decision on whether to enter said area or not on that information, and ultimately, less public-facing areas, such as yards – which on the face of it may be more vulnerable to criminal activity – are preferred locations for security cameras, than public streets.

The full Pärnu Postimees article (in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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