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Security cameras – When does surveillance become an invasion of privacy?

Published: 7th September 2017

Author: Jess Collett, Norris Ward McKinnon

Published in: Commercial e.Speaking | #47

The use of closed circuit television (CCTV) and/or security cameras are useful security tools for businesses to deter unwanted behaviour and identify wrongdoers. When you’re deciding whether to install and use CCTV and/or security cameras to protect your business, you must be aware of your obligations under the Privacy Act 1993.

The Act contains 12 privacy principles around the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Personal information must be collected and used for lawful purposes, and usually can’t be disclosed to third parties without that person’s consent. To find out more about the 12 privacy principles, go here.

To comply with these privacy principles you must make sure that your employees and members of the public are aware that CCTV and/or security cameras are operating, who owns/operates them, why they are operating and the purpose the information has been collected for. You can do this by displaying signage which can be easily seen before people enter the filmed area.

You must have a clearly defined reason for collecting personal information and only collect information for that purpose. CCTV and/or security cameras must not be operated in a manner that is unlawful, unfair or unreasonably intrusive.

Signage may not prevent individuals from complaining to the Privacy Commissioner if they feel their rights under the Act have been breached. However, if you’re looking to install CCTV and/or security cameras around your business premises, it will go some way to ensuring you have taken reasonable steps to comply with the Act.

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