Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ
6. Use of CCTV
6.1 What issues surround the use of CCTV?
6.2 What if I am asked by a law enforcement authority for access to the CCTV footage?
6.3 What if I am asked for a copy of CCTV footage?
6.4 Can my school introduce a new CCTV system?
6.5 Can I install CCTV in my taxi?
All usage of CCTV other than in a purely domestic context must be undertaken in compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Acts. Extensive guidance on this issue is available at https://www.dataprotection.ie/viewdoc.asp?m=m&fn=/documents/guidance/cctv.htm. In summary all uses of CCTV must be proportionate and for a specific purpose. As CCTV infringes the privacy of the persons captured in the images there must be a genuine reason for installing such a system. If installing such a system, it is required that the purpose for its use be displayed in a prominent position. In a shop or store context this would normally be at the entrance.
The images captured should be retained for a maximum of 28 days, except where the image identifies an issue and is retained specifically in the context of an investigation of that issue.
Tapes should be stored in a secure environment with a log of access to tapes kept. Access should be restricted to authorised personnel. Similar measures should be employed when using disk storage, with automatic logs of access to the images created.
If a law enforcement authority, such as An Garda Síochána, is seeking a recording for a specific investigation, it is up to the data controller to satisfy itself that there is a genuine investigation underway. For practical purposes, in cases of urgency a phone call to the requesting Garda's station may be sufficient, provided that you speak to a member in the District Office, the station sergeant or a higher ranking officer, as all may be assumed to be acting with the authority of a District/Divisional officer in confirming that an investigation is authorised. In all situations, it is advised that the disclosure of such recordings is best handled in response to a formal written communication from the Gardaí indicating that the material is sought for the prevention, investigation or detection of a crime.
CCTV may be used legitimately for security related purposes at the perimeter of a school. Any use beyond this would need to be fully justifiable and evidence-based with a very high threshold for such evidence. This is particularly the case in a school environment as most of the personal data processed will relate to minors.
There are a number of data protection implications regarding the installation of CCTV in taxis as the footage recorded would be considered to be personal data under the Acts. In general, this Office would have a concern about the proportionality and justification of installing CCTV cameras in taxis taking account of the legitimate privacy expectations of vehicle users. Our general guidance is that while a balance must be struck between the privacy considerations of the service users and the legitimate interests of an organisation to protect its business, the continuous recording of passengers in taxis is not compliant with the data protection legislation.
However, this Office is aware that certain taxis have introduced CCTV and it is assumed therefore that they have done so having assessed the proportionality conditions above. Where this is the case we would expect that the footage, given its extremely invasive nature, would be generally restricted from access and deleted on a rolling basis after 24 hours, except where there is a need to retain it in response to a specific instance. Other conditions in relation to prominent notices of such recording would also need to be met. This Office does not accept that it is ever proportionate to use audio recording (recording conversations) in a taxi.