Use of CCTV is becoming increasingly common in our society. It is commonly used as a form of monitoring by businesses, governments, and private individuals.
CCTV has many potential valuable uses. Its installation can be used to enhance the protection of property and personal safety by providing a deterrence against people who would cause damage to property or physical harm to individuals. Obviously, footage obtained from CCTV can be very useful in the investigation of theft, property damage or personal injury.
However, the use of CCTV cameras can have legal implications.
Not surprisingly, installing a surveillance device such as a CCTV camera on private property requires the consent of the occupiers of that property.
If a business is looking to set up surveillance in a workplace there are additional considerations to consider. Surveillance in a business must comply with the requirements of the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (NSW). One of the key requirements of that legislation is that employees are provided with 14 days written notice, prior to the use of camera surveillance.
In addition, the cameras used for surveillance of employees need to be in plain sight and signs need to be placed at the entrance to the premises indicating that surveillance is taking place.
In addition to meeting legislative requirements such as those in the Workplace Surveillance Act, people using CCTV surveillance should consider other potential legal difficulties.
For example, it is not uncommon for neighbours of a property with CCTV surveillance to become concerned about the presence of these cameras. This is particularly so if the cameras appear to be pointed in a direction that will lead to the neighbouring property also being filmed. This sort of issue can easily lead to acrimonious disputes between neighbours. If not carefully handled, such disputes can grow out of all proportion and often lead to confrontations that might involve the police or AVO proceedings between neighbours.
Do not overlook your Local Council rules and regulations. Some Local Councils may require that you receive planning permission for CCTV to be installed.
Concerns can also arise where the use of CCTV results in the recording of people involved in intimate acts or in a state of undress, without the consent of those being recorded. The use of cameras of any kind to record those types of images without the consent of those involved is expressly prohibited under the Crimes Act 1900 if the recording is made for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification.
Obviously, it is possible to imagine circumstances where CCTV cameras set up for legitimate reasons, might accidentally capture unintended footage. The accidental recording of that footage will not be illegal.
However, people installing CCTV surveillance should give thought to the possibility of these types of images being accidentally captured. Recording those types of images should be avoided wherever possible in order to reduce the likelihood of any unwanted allegations of inappropriate use of the cameras.
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