(Acclaimed News) You know things are bad when the government’s own surveillance camera commissioner expresses concerns about the big brother society. We’re used to hearing reports about illegal NSA and GCHQ snooping, but this time body-worn cameras are in the spotlight, with fears that the public’s privacy and data protection may be compromised.
Although police units that use these cameras have to comply with strict guidelines, former counter-terrorism officer Tony Porter who took over the role in March has pointed out that other organisations using the devices do not have any such regulations.
This raises questions on a range of subjects including training, security of data and the identities of those who are able to access these recordings.
The UK’s automatic numberplate recognition system has also become the subject of scrutiny. The ANPR system is able to capture around 27 million numberplates every day and questions are now being asked as to how many of these cameras are actually in current use.
He has called for the public to made fully aware of the extent of monitoring in order to make informed decisions about whether or not they support the use of CCTV.
According to V3, while speaking at the Security Twenty15 conference he said:
“I’m talking about door supervisors at night clubs, traffic enforcement officers and environmental officers.
“You have kit that can be picked up off a shelf for peanuts and be up and running in hours. Will your postman wear one to capture your dog barking at him? Will the local corner shop owner have one to pre-empt any robbery or theft?.
“The public must be made aware of how advances in technology can alter the way they are monitored. There needs to be consultation and debate on matters that can severely impact on an individual’s right to privacy.”
The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice was brought into action in 2013 in order to place restrictions on excessive camera usage by both public and private organisations. The code was even updated in 2014 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
This code is now being reviewed, and later in the year the findings will be presented to Theresa May. Unfortunately, the home secretary is likely to disagree with the results as she is a strong advocate of draconian surveillance measures including monitoring the public’s social media, communications and internet usage.
Mr Porter, meanwhile, has asked councils and businesses to be transparent about information being recorded and has commented on the number of redundant CCTV cameras in the country, calling on the public as a whole to be aware of the reality of an encroaching surveillance society.