Privacy in a Digital World

There is a growing number of government initiatives worldwide, seeking to leverage imaging systems such as CCTV cameras in conjunction with the emerging and increasingly more accurate and efficient facial recognition technologies in mass surveillance schemes – the monitoring and intricate surveillance of an entire or a significant fraction of a population of citizens. In Australia too, work is being conducted on a system known as the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability – our own national, identity matching system. The concerns over mass surveillance have sparked widespread protests in Hong Kong and privacy in a digital world is becoming a increasingly relevant topic each year. With CCTV as widespread (ubiquitous even) as it is, these concerns raise questions not just about privacy in the digital world in general, but also specifically about CCTV privacy as well.

 In the broader context of privacy in a digital world, there are a few things that are worth noting. Not all security cameras employ facial recognition and tracking technologies and in many cases, especially where business security set-ups are concerned, there is probably not much to be worried about in terms of privacy for those who may be filmed. A business is generally more interested in being able to reveal instances of security breaches, misconduct, or protecting their material assets, rather than adding faces to facial recognition databases for use in identity matching schemes. How concerned a business owner looking to install CCTV monitoring equipment at the premises should be? What about customers and clients visiting those premises? And what about residential configurations? If you are concerned about CCTV and privacy in a digital world, continue reading to learn more about CCTV privacy and how it may apply in these scenarios.

Privacy in the Digital World in General

“The digital age is characterized by the omnipresence of hidden cameras and other surveillance devices.” As Marcel Becker wrote for the December 2019 special issue of the Ethics and Information Technology journal on “moral technologies”. “The main concern is not the intrusive eye of another person, but the constant observation . . . “ and, as Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler pointed out on TechCrunch last year (in 2019), “New and inexpensive forms of data storage and the internet connectivity revolution . . . enable the constant transmission of big data from sensors and data-collection devices . . .” while the “. . . artificial intelligence revolution has made it possible to analyze the masses of data gathered this way.”. Privacy in a digital world is still something we are collectively coming to grips with it seems.

As a business owner or a homeowner, you, of course, are more interested in securing your premises rather than the moral or ethical implications of installing a couple of cameras out the back of your house or in your shop. At the same time, you may still want to be informed on whether CCTV privacy is something you need to consider in your set-up. Do you need to be concerned about privacy in the digital world and what rules and regulations should you inform yourself on?

 In the broader context of privacy in a digital world, there are a few things that are worth noting. Not all security cameras employ facial recognition and tracking technologies and in many cases, especially where business security set-ups are concerned, there is probably not much to be worried about in terms of privacy for those who may be filmed. A business is generally more interested in being able to reveal instances of security breaches, misconduct, or protecting their material assets, rather than adding faces to facial recognition databases for use in identity matching schemes. How concerned a business owner looking to install CCTV monitoring equipment at the premises should be? What about customers and clients visiting those premises? And what about residential configurations? If you are concerned about CCTV and privacy in a digital world, continue reading to learn more about CCTV privacy and how it may apply in these scenarios.

CCTV Privacy

In Australia, we do have legal groundwork laid out to help protect privacy in the digital world whilst regulating matters concerning CCTV privacy. The Australian Government’s Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s website outlines the rules regarding security cameras.

The Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland website provides further insights into camera surveillance and privacy as it applies to us here in Brisbane. The OIC, although it only deals with privacy laws as they apply to Queensland Government, has prepared a handy community guide to camera surveillance, video and audio recording. To outline a few points that may apply to you regardless of whether you are installing surveillance cameras in your home or at a business:

  • It is an offence to record people without their consent in places where they expect to be private. For example, in the bedroom, bathroom, or changeroom.
  • Installing cameras in a way that breaches the Queensland Criminal Code may result in prosecution. It is a good idea to minimise the impact of your cameras on neighbouring properties.
  • Your neighbours, (for example families with young children and / or pools), may feel as if their privacy has been invaded if they are recorded by your cameras. They may seek to escalate these issues to the Queensland Police Service, and you should be aware of that.

It is important to keep in mind that CCTV and IP cameras are a tool – they are designed to serve a specific purpose, but like most tools, they can be misused and pose an unnecessary threat to privacy. Although, when installing video surveillance on your premises, you may only be concerned about the few common reasons for adding a security camera setup – whether its workplace monitoring, improving employee productivity, sales tracking, WH&S claims, insurance claims, mitigation of malicious damage to your property, theft deterrence or access control, to name only a few typical applications, it is important to also consider rules and regulations around the type of footage you seek to collect and store. At Electronic Alarms and Installations we are a corporate member of the Australian Security Industry Association Limited – we guarantee the highest levels of service and skills in workmanship that comply with the Australian standards – all of our is carried out by fully licensed, insured and registered technicians. A professional CCTV or IP camera set-up does not have to be a privacy threat or concern.

 In the broader context of privacy in a digital world, there are a few things that are worth noting. Not all security cameras employ facial recognition and tracking technologies and in many cases, especially where business security set-ups are concerned, there is probably not much to be worried about in terms of privacy for those who may be filmed. A business is generally more interested in being able to reveal instances of security breaches, misconduct, or protecting their material assets, rather than adding faces to facial recognition databases for use in identity matching schemes. How concerned a business owner looking to install CCTV monitoring equipment at the premises should be? What about customers and clients visiting those premises? And what about residential configurations? If you are concerned about CCTV and privacy in a digital world, continue reading to learn more about CCTV privacy and how it may apply in these scenarios.

Get in touch with Electronic Alarms and Installations for CCTV installation Brisbane wide, and beyond in the Greater Brisbane area. We install CCTV and security systems Brisbane wide and can help to secure your business or residential premises. Call us on 1300 541 025, e-mail [email protected] or get in touch online now, to get started today.

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