UK Government Refuses To Impose Privacy Rules On Surveillance Cameras In Hospitals
from the instead,-why-not-try-doing-what-you-already-tried-and-doesn't-work? dept
As we’ve noted before, the UK is infamous for the number of surveillance cameras that dot the land. They’ve become so much a part of British life that there is an official Surveillance Camera Commissioner, whose job is to encourage compliance with an official surveillance camera code of practice. The basic principle of the code is the following:
Use of a surveillance camera system must always be for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need.
However, the Commissioner’s powers are very circumscribed:
The commissioner has no enforcement or inspection powers and works with relevant authorities to make them aware of their duty to have regard to the code. The code is not applicable to domestic use in private households. The commissioner also must consider how best to encourage voluntary adoption of the code by other operators of surveillance camera systems.
As that makes clear, there are no enforcement powers to compel recalcitrant authorities to bring their surveillance into line. Still, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner does what he can, for example by pointing out situations that he regards as problematic. Here’s one he spotted: the increasing use of body-worn surveillance cameras (pdf) in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) hospitals.
The introduction of body-worn video cameras at several hospitals has increased my concerns. Body-worn video cameras are a particularly intrusive device as they capture audio and video simultaneously without the option of switching either off whilst recording.
As the Commissioner points out, hospitals are unusually sensitive environments for surveillance cameras:
The NHS trusts are complex organisations that use surveillance camera systems in public areas where people under surveillance are likely to be vulnerable and distressed, and where the privacy requirements and burden on those conducting transparent, legitimate and proportionate surveillance is surely at its highest.
In order to ensure that surveillance cameras are being used appropriately, the Commissioner asked the UK government to add NHS hospitals to the list of organizations that are obliged by law to comply with the code of practice. The UK government has refused (pdf), writing to the Commissioner as follows:
When we met on 18 October, I indicated that I was not minded to amend the code to expand the list of relevant authorities [that must comply with the surveillance camera code of practice] because I considered that we had not exhausted the possibilities of increasing voluntary compliance with its requirements. That remains my position.
Reasonable enough, you might say. Except that the Commissioner had previously explained to the UK government that he had already tried asking for “voluntary compliance”, only to be told by the hospitals that “they could not enforce compliance with guidance that was not mandatory”. A cynic might almost think the UK government doesn’t really care what its Surveillance Camera Commissioner recommends.
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Filed Under: cctv, hospitals, privacy, rules, surveillance camera commissioner, surveillance cameras, uk
Comments on “UK Government Refuses To Impose Privacy Rules On Surveillance Cameras In Hospitals”
It will be bad for the European economy but somehow the EU can be pleased that they are about to lose affiliation with the english government.
The UK hs become so concerned with knowing what every person is doing, 24/7, it has destroyed 99% of citizens freedoms, privacies and protections and ignoring the final 1% anyway! Hardly the best country in the Western World anymore!
When th UK is compared to countries with worse surveillance laws and powers ans still cuts off thieves hands or stone adulterers to death, or have people disappear, comments like ‘we dont do that’ come out. That maybe true atm bht for how much longer?
If any of that was in the least bit true, the hit-and-run rate would be a lot lower in areas that bristle with CCTV. It’s actually not.
My former colleague was hit by a car in Liverpool. CCTV all over the place. He suffered for months from his injuries and the driver was never caught. Do half of these cameras even work?
Re: Re: Re:
My brother was hit by a car while on a sidewalk in San Francisco with some friends. He was in the Hospital there for a while, and to this day still has eye site issues. Of course the person was never caught.
I don’t have a problem with Camera’s out in the public outside. People are on Camera all the time, even in other places besides the UK, though the UK has taken it to a whole new level or 5. Body Camera’s in hospitals I do take issue with.
There’s a very easy solution to the “peace sign dilemma”. Just turn your hand around when you make a peace sign, with a slight upwards movement. No problems with fingerprints, and they’ll get the message.
And, for extra safety, just use one finger.
Every member of parliament needs one in their bedroom.
On the one hand, eww, on the other that would certainly get the message across, though you can bet they’d be screeching about how it was a ‘gross violation of personal privacy’.
a particularly intrusive device as they capture audio and video simultaneously without the option of switching either off whilst recording.
Pfft. They need to have themselves a little talk with Chicago and DC police. Amateurs.
“The commissioner has no enforcement or inspection powers and works with relevant authorities to make them aware of their duty to have regard to the code.”
Kind of like what the FCC is going to become.
Surveillance is like a weed. Unless stopped early it spreads uncontrollably.
welcome to the pornospitals
welcome to the pornospitals
I wrote a paper for university that looked at public acceptance of surveillance cameras. A local newspaper in one town had polled people regularly over at least a decade. As soon as the term safety camera was used instead of surveillance camera, public support swung heavily in favour of them. They were introduced into that towns central areas fairly soon after this.
UK government’s ultimate goal is to have surveillance cameras inside people’s houses. Like Big Brother.