If we were to compile a list of FAQs, then the question about displaying ‘CCTV in operation’ signs will definitely be in the top 10. So what does the law say about it?
The obligation to use a ‘CCTV’ sign comes primarily from a plethora of data protection regulations, in particular – GDPR and DPA.
Without going into too much detail, the GDPR (which is an EU-derived General Data Protection law) and DPA (UK Data Protection Act 2018) impose certain obligations on businesses and organisations involved in collecting or processing personal data. And ‘Yes’ video footage from a CCTV is considered to be personal data.
Therefore, if you are a business and have a CCTV in operation, then you must let your employees and customers know that they are recorded, which is usually done by displaying signs, which must be clearly visible and readable.
However, GDPR and DPA do not as a general rule apply to private individuals who deal with personal data in purely domestic situations. So if you are considering installing, or have already installed, a CCTV system on your own home to protect it from burglary, there is no obligation to display any CCTV warning notices (albeit, the ICO still encourages people to do so).
What is a ‘grey area’ is where the range of your camera includes your neighbours’ property, gardens, pavements or other public areas, which is often the case with wide-angle cameras and PTZ (patrolling) video security systems. In that case, if your CCTV system captures images of people outside the boundary of your private domestic property – then the GDPR and the DPA may apply to you in the same way as to a business. In that instance you are encouraged to apply privacy filters to your camera (which we touched upon in some detail in one of our earlier posts).
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.
Another problem is the use of certain video-equipped doorbell devices and intercoms. It is often overlooked that such devices also fall within the category of video cameras (provided that they are capable of storing video footage). Unfortunately, such devices are designed to be positioned on the border of your property facing outward and rarely have privacy masking tools to deal with any data protection and privacy concerns.
The best way to deal with such devices, as we have been advised by the ICO, is to not store video records using such devices or regularly erase data after collection.