What Are the Privacy Laws Behind Video Surveillance?

For many business owners, the idea of adding video surveillance to their existing security measures is desirable, but they’re not sure if the advantages outweigh the risks. That can be especially true when it comes to respecting privacy laws — nobody wants to be given a lawsuit because the surveillance was done inappropriately. According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, if an organization needs to install a video surveillance system in their business, it must be balanced with the individual’s right to privacy. This means the individual have a right to enter their organizations without scrutiny.

At Arpel Security Systems, we take care to work with our clients to make sure their CCTV surveillance system is effective and in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation. Here are some of the things we ask our clients to take into consideration:

1. Privacy legislation (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) favours the individual. The recording of images at your place of business, even when used only for security purposes, is considered to be the collection of personal information. Businesses need to approach security monitoring with this in mind.

2. There are two kinds of video surveillance in the public sector: covert surveillance and overt surveillance. Covert surveillance, in which the person is unaware that there is video surveillance in use, is a delicate security measure that companies in Vancouver should avoid. It is intended to be used by people familiar with the intricacies of privacy laws, such as private investigators. Businesses only need to use overt surveillance, in which individuals are made aware that they are being monitored.

3. Requirements for using video surveillance in your place of business:

  • Determine the specific business purpose of the surveillance (for example, theft and vandalism deterrence, personal safety for shoppers or residents) and limit its use to that purpose.
  • Develop a clear written policy regarding its use, and store-recorded images in a secure location.
  • Place cameras judiciously; it is inappropriate to use video surveillance in locations where individuals reasonably expect their privacy to be respected, such as change rooms, spa treatment rooms and bathrooms.
  • Notify the public that they are being monitored by video.
  • Destroy images when they are no longer required for their specific purpose.
  • Train any persons handling the surveillance equipment and images about privacy legislation requirements.

Breaches of Privacy

As a business owner, you must encourage the reporting of breaches of privacy on the part of employees. Inappropriate use of personal information is a liability for your enterprise. For the employee, it constitutes a breach of contract and they should be dealt with accordingly.

For more information about security services for Vancouver businesses, contact Arpel Security Systems. At Arpel, we comply with video surveillance laws in British Columbia. We’ll be happy to advise you about how to use a video surveillance system in compliance with privacy laws.

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