There is an often-cited but never substantiated ‘statistic’ claiming that the average Briton is caught on CCTV 300 times a day. While this is the stuff of urban legend, what is true is that many businesses capturing our image on security cameras here in Ireland are not complying with privacy legislation.
A February 13 survey carried out by Irish company Top Security has found that most public businesses on Dublin’s busiest shopping thoroughfare, Grafton Street, do not even meet the most basic privacy legislation requirements for CCTV, as stipulated in the Data Protection Act.
Under the Data Protection Act, individuals walking about, shopping, eating, etc, in public have certain rights when it comes to their image being recorded, as this image falls under the category of ‘personal data’ in Section 1 of the act.
What this means is that if a company captures video footage of individuals, it is required by law to identify the data controller (the entity in control of video footage), and explain why this footage is being recorded and who has access to it.
According to Top Security, only 8pc of the 75 surveyed businesses on Grafton Street were in total compliance with the act, while 50 had no sign at all to indicate the presence of CCTV.
Another stipulation of the act is that the premises must give a number for the data controller – only five businesses gave this information.
If the Data Protection Act was to be enforced on these businesses, this would mean a possible fine of up to €100,000.
“The right to privacy is of utmost importance in this age of surveillance and communication, and the Data Protection Act was drafted for a clear reason – to protect the privacy of Ireland’s citizens,” said Emmet O’Rafferty (pictured), chairman of Top Security.
“In a time when other industries are potentially surrendering rights to privacy, we should be especially aware of our legal right to know when and why we are under video surveillance, and who to contact if we have any issues.”
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Pictured: Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of Top Security
By Marie Boran