Tips, Tools and Checklists

Helpful tips to protect your privacy online.


Using Video Surveillance

Tip Author: 
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia

Adapted from guidance published by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia

Installing surveillance equipment may seem like a logical decision for your organization, but collection and use of personal information through video surveillance may violate privacy law and could lead to other costly liabilities.

  • Identify and document the purpose that may be served by surveillance
  • Limit the time your surveillance is active, for example:
    • turning on the cameras for certain times of the day or night rather than 24 hours a day
  • Avoid unintended subjects
    • Position cameras to capture the least amount of information that is needed. For example, a store security camera should not capture images of passersby on the street.
    • Avoid areas where people have a heightened expectation of privacy, such as change rooms, washrooms, or into windows.
  • Draft and adopt an organizational policy that addresses:
    • the rationale and purpose of the surveillance
    • when and how monitoring and/or recording will be in effect
    • how recordings will be used
    • for how long they will be kept
    • how they will be securely deleted
    • process to follow if there is unauthorized access or disclosure
  • Limit access
    • identify individuals who are authorized to access the recordings.
    • Authorized individuals should only review the recorded images to investigate a significant security or safety incident, such as criminal activity.
    • Minimize the number of individuals who have access to the monitoring system or recordings, and
    • Provide ongoing privacy training so operators are clear about their obligations
    • Any disclosure of video surveillance recordings outside your organization should be limited to that authorized by the applicable privacy law, and be documented.
    • Be prepared to provide a copy of the relevant surveillance recording upon request.
    • When disclosing recordings, use masking technology to ensure that identifying information about other individuals on the recording is not disclosed.
  • Storage and destruction
    • To reduce the possibility of loss and theft, keep video recordings under your control - either on trusted premises or on a trusted cloud platform.
    • Develop and follow a secure storage protocol.
    • Prepare a retention and destruction schedule to specify the length of time that surveillance records will be kept (we recommend a maximum of 7 days).
    • Decide when and how records will be destroyed.
    • Safely and securely destroy recorded images when they are no longer required for business purposes.
    • Document the destruction in your logs.
  • Camera Accountability
    • Post a clear, understandable, and visible notice about the use of cameras on the premises before individuals enter the premises.
    • The sign should plainly indicate which areas are under video surveillance and for what purpose, for example: "This property is monitored by video surveillance for theft prevention."
    • Provide contact information of someone in your organization for individuals to contact if they have questions about the surveillance.
    • Consider making your written surveillance policy available to the public.
    • Regularly review your policy to ensure that using video surveillance is still justifiable and needed for your original purpose (we recommend a biennial review).
Tip Theme: 
Devices, Home Automation and the Internet of Things
Tip Confidence: 

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