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This advice will help you to understand what you need to do if you are considering installing, or have already installed, a CCTV system (or similar technology, such as video-equipped doorbell devices) on your home. A CCTV system includes the camera, storage, recording and all associated equipment.
1. Information Commissioner’s Office
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regulates and enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).
If your CCTV system captures images of people outside the boundary of your private domestic property – for example, from neighbours’ homes or gardens, shared spaces, or from public areas – then the GDPR and the DPA will apply to you. You will need to ensure your use of CCTV complies with these laws. If you do not comply with your data protection obligations you may be subject to appropriate regulatory action by the ICO, as well as potential legal action by affected individuals.
The ICO has published guidance on the use of domestic CCTV and a CCTV checklist, which will help you to better understand and meet your obligations under data protection law. It is important that you read this guidance as well as the checklist, as this is a fuller explanation of your obligations to data protection law. The ICO has also published guidance for people being filmed by domestic CCTV.
If you have any questions about the use of domestic CCTV, you can contact the ICO or call 0303 123 1113. If you are unhappy about the use of a domestic CCTV system, use the ICO’s online tool to determine the best course of action in your situation.
2. Surveillance Camera Commissioner
The role of Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) was created under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (PoFA). The SCC was appointed by the Home Secretary and is independent of government.
The SCC does not regulate domestic CCTV systems. The SCC’s statutory functions are to encourage compliance with the Home Secretary’s Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (the SC Code) and its 12 guiding principles, which if followed will ensure that surveillance camera systems are only operated proportionately, transparently and effectively.
The SC Code applies to the overt use of surveillance camera systems that are operated by relevant authorities only (police forces, local authorities and parish councils) in public places in England and Wales, regardless of whether or not there is any live viewing or recording of images or information or associated data.
Under the provisions of PoFA, relevant authorities must pay due regard to the SC Code. However, the SCC also encourages other organisations operating CCTV systems, and those operating domestic CCTV systems, to adopt the SC Code on a voluntary basis.
3. Operating your domestic CCTV system responsibly
You may be considering using a CCTV system as a necessary means to protect your property from acts of crime and anti-social behaviour. A domestic CCTV system needs to be operated in a responsible way that respects the privacy of others.
The ICO receives many complaints from neighbours and other members of the public who are concerned that CCTV systems are being used to spy on them.
Below is a list of general considerations to help you reduce the risk of your CCTV system intruding on the privacy of others.
3.1 Reasons for considering a CCTV system
- why do I need CCTV?
- could I use another means to protect my home, such as improved lighting?
- what do I want my CCTV system to view and record (this could be the front door, a parking space, the back yard, a shed, and so on)?
- does it need to record all the time?
- does it need to record audio?
3.2 How your CCTV system affects others
It is important to consider the privacy of others. Ask yourself:
- where will I position the CCTV to minimise intrusion into my neighbours’ and other people’s privacy?
- will the range of the cameras include my neighbours’ property, gardens, pavements or other areas? If so, you could consider systems that can reduce intrusion, such as those which have privacy filters
- how will my neighbours feel about my CCTV?
3.3 Letting people know about your CCTV system
Ensure that you are transparent to those around you when installing your CCTV system. You can do this by:
- informing your neighbour(s) about your system
- putting up a notice informing people that recording is taking place
3.4 Taking responsibility for your CCTV system
If you are thinking of installing a CCTV system on your property, and it records images beyond your private domestic property, you must be aware of your responsibilities:
- it is your responsibility to make sure that the CCTV system is installed correctly
- you are also responsible for all the information that is recorded by your system
- you must make sure that the information is not used for any other purpose than protecting your property
- make sure you read the manual, and if necessary, ask your installer to show you how to operate it and how to export footage if required
- you will need to be aware of individuals’ data protection rights and make sure you take steps to allow the people you record to exercise these rights effectively (for example, you will need to respond appropriately to any subject access requests you receive from the people you record)
3.5 Storing the recorded information
Ensure you bear the following in mind when storing the information you record on your CCTV system:
- you should make sure that the date and time on your system are accurate
- it is important to check that you have enough recording space
- you should not store any information or images for longer than is necessary to protect your property which means you should delete the information once it is no longer required
- you should make sure that the information recorded is used only for the purpose for which your system was installed (for example it will not be appropriate to share any recordings on social media sites)
- you must keep the recordings secure and keep access to them to a minimum (remember that you are responsible for what happens with the information)
- in certain circumstances, the information you record may be used as evidence by the police in an investigation (therefore, if you are not sure, it is important to check with your installer or local police authority that the information you record can be used for this purpose when required)
Once you have installed your CCTV system, you should regularly check that:
- you are complying with the GDPR and the DPA if your CCTV system captures images outside the boundaries of your home
- you regularly delete the recordings and do not keep them for longer than is necessary for the protection of your property
- your CCTV system is still needed
- it is important that you check your system regularly to make sure that it is working properly (this may include cleaning any debris affecting the CCTV device and wiping it down after bad weather)
- you should also check the position of your CCTV device from time to time to make sure it still captures the right images and privacy intrusion is minimised