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HFHR’s comments on new proposals of video surveillance regulation

The HFHR has presented the second opinion on the new draft legislative guidelines for the law on video surveillance put forward by the Ministry of Interior. As compared with the original draft of December 2013, the current version contains several changes enhancing protection against the excessive use of cameras which may interfere with the right to privacy. Yet some proposals of the Ministry still raise doubts.

Many safeguards for privacy protection were introduced in respect of the “open public space” (covering e.g. parks, streets, squares), whereas they would not apply to the “closed space designed for public use” (including work establishments, schools, shops).

“In our view such a division is not always reasonable”, says Dorota Głowacka, HFHR lawyer. “For instance, such issues as the prohibition of using dummy cameras or a requirement to verify the appropriateness of video surveillance and conduct periodic assessments of its effectiveness have been reserved by the law-maker solely for the open public space “, adds Dorota Głowacka.

Criminal provisions have been rightly removed from the new draft law. Another positive change is the inclusion of the Inspector General for the Protection of Personal Data as a body overseeing the use of the video surveillance. However, the scope of the IGPPD’s powers have not been precisely defined in respect of all types of spaces to be covered by the regulation.

Other controversial issues are: insufficient safeguards for privacy protection at a workplace, a proposal to enable video surveillance allowing for immediate identification of individuals, no provisions governing the disclosure of video recordings to the media, no right of access for a person subject to video surveillance to his or her own data and the relatively long storage time of recordings.

Regulating video surveillance is an important initiative of the Ministry of Interior. The applicable law fails to define explicitly the rights of citizens exposed to surveillance, or impose clear obligations and restrictions on the agencies that use this method. At the same time, cameras are becoming an increasingly common element of the public landscape. They are installed at workplaces as well. This creates a risk of abuse, which the newly drafted law is meant to mitigate.

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