The use of commercial CCTV is commonplace nowadays. Whether it’s for loss prevention, employee monitoring or general surveillance, business owners use CCTV to safeguard their interests and protect their property. However, there are a number of legal obligations that come along with CCTV. It is critical to understand these legal implications when it comes to the installation and use of CCTV.
Data Protection Laws
In Australia, the key piece of legislation governing data protection is the Privacy Act 1988 (as updated in 2014 and 2017), as well as further rules contained within each state and territory’s privacy regimes.
It is important to check the requirements that are applicable in your jurisdiction. Generally, business owners have a duty to protect the personal data they collect: CCTV systems often utilise relatively sophisticated facial recognition technology or motion sensors, which can collect a great deal of personal data. Businesses must take the necessary steps to ensure that the data collected by CCTV systems is used and stored securely in accordance with the legislation.
The use of commercial CCTV must be balanced against employees’ or customers’ privacy rights. In some states, there are restrictions on the type of recordings that are permitted; if the CCTV is considered to invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, a complaint could be made to the applicable ombudsman. In Victoria, for instance, any recordings captured must not be considered ‘intrusive’, while the Queensland Office of the Information Commissioner has specific guidelines on the use of CCTV in regard to personal privacy.
Read more: Australian Privacy Principles
When using commercial CCTV for the purpose of surveillance, it is necessary to obtain consent from the parties being recorded. This includes both employees and customers. Signs must be posted at the entrance to the premises indicating that CCTV is in use and informing the parties that their activities are being monitored. It is also important to include a clause in the employment contract stating that the employee is aware of the CCTV system and consents to being monitored. Businesses should also have a surveillance policy in place that outlines the purpose and scope of the system.
Signs and Notifications
Any premises using a CCTV system must be clearly marked in order to alert customers or employees of the fact that they are being monitored. In every state in Australia, there are laws that require businesses to display visible signs to indicate that CCTV is in use, with specific requirements for the size, font and wording of the signage. To ensure compliance, businesses should work with an expert to create signs that comply with the applicable laws.
In addition to visibly displaying signs and obtaining consent, businesses must also have a clear set of usage policies in place. This includes policies that stipulate who is responsible for the recordings, how long the recordings will be stored, and who has access to the recordings. The usage policies must be clearly outlined in the surveillance policy.
CCTV systems are an increasingly popular tool for businesses to protect their premises. At CGF Security and Electrical, we can advise you on the legal considerations to ensure your CCTV system is compliant with the applicable data protection laws and meets your desired objectives. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.