Ecuador Requires Hotels, Pubs, Clubs, Dance Halls And Massage Parlors To Store CCTV Footage Of Their Public Areas For Six Months

from the can't-see-this-working dept

The use of CCTV cameras is hardly a new threat to privacy, but governments can still come up with demands for their use that surprise by their intrusiveness. That's the case for Ecuador, where the Ministry of the Interior has made the following regulation, supposedly for reasons of "safety" (original in Spanish):
A recent decision by the Ministry of Interior ordered that every cabaret and motel ... throughout the country, should have a system of video cameras in hallways, waiting rooms, entrances. It is an indispensable requirement for obtaining a permit to operate.

Not only must the CCTV cameras be kept in continuous operation, but they must also record everything that happens in front of their lenses, and have to store those videos for six months.
Six months' footage from multiple CCTV cameras will be a huge quantity of data, which will make managing its storage a challenge for non-technical staff. Similarly, the sheer quantity available to the authorities will make finding anything quite hard -- a by-now familiar problem that more surveillance data often equates to less useful information.

But, of course, the key issue here is one of privacy. The new ordinance is incredibly wide: in addition to hotels and motels, it applies to a huge range of other public spaces, including pubs, clubs, dance halls and massage parlors. Many people value these places for their private nature -- something that will be largely abolished under the new requirements. It will be interesting to see how this situation evolves -- whether businesses simply ignore the regulation, or perhaps "accidentally" wipe stored images. In any case, given the massive problems it will bring for people in their private lives, it's hard to see the new regulation being fully implemented, whatever the government of Ecuador might hope.

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Filed Under: cctv, data retention, ecuador, privacy, surveillance


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 3:59pm

    This is not as intrusive as it sounds, because it records who was in a place, and keeps that recording in that place until, and unless the police request the data to further some inquiry. Also it enables an alibi to be proven, by requesting the relevant footage. Therefore the data can only be used to query who was present in a specific place at a specific time.
    It does not enable the system that the US is building, centralized record storage where face recognition or other technologies can be used to put together a history of a chosen person life, and track every thing that they do in public.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 4:09pm

      Re:

      There is the problem of mission creep. It may not be intrusive now....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 10:19pm

      Re:

      It does not enable the system that the US is building, centralized record storage where face recognition or other technologies can be used to put together a history of a chosen person life, and track every thing that they do in public.

      Yet.

      If a camera system is good enough to positively identify someone, then linking the data gathered by multiple cameras can very easily allow you to track someone's movements to an extremely accurate degree. What's more, once they've gotten people used to cameras in stores and whatnot being required to keep that data for months at a time, it'll be far easier to get away with rolling out cameras in other places, until you won't be able to go anywhere without being tracked.

      But hey, no worries, after all, 'if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear', right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 10:29pm

      Re:

      Yeah......for now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chillinfart, 12 Mar 2015 @ 5:02pm

    owned

    Exists worse examples of data retention currently (see peruvian cybercrime law)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 5:02pm

    These kinds of rules would have come in handy in the Clinton White House, and might have prevented Zippergate from ever happening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DaveK (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 5:27pm

    This law will last precisely until...

    ... the first footage showing government ministers or assemblymen patronising a massage parlour is leaked. Then they'll suddenly discover that it was a terrible invasion of privacy all along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 5:10am

      Re: This law will last precisely until...

      No instead they will charge and arrest the people that leaked the info along with whatever sites/group or company that allowed it to be leaked.

      You are not dealing with honest and goodly people here. You are dealing with a corrupt and dare I say evil organization.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 5:44pm

    I have the solution!

    "they must also record everything that happens in front of their lenses"

    It seems the solution is obvious. Have the cameras installed in the required location and then point them at a wall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 6:37pm

    Loop it

    Six months' footage from multiple CCTV cameras will be a huge quantity of data, which will make managing its storage a challenge for non-technical staff.

    Recycle footage from Thursday the 12th to Friday the 27th. And so on. Less storage, less history. Unless someone tries combing through all of it, they'll never know. And if they do? Oh...so sorry, clerical mistake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:06pm

    On the other side of the coin:

    http://kdvr.com/2015/03/11/mysterious-spy-cameras-collecting-data-at-post-offices/

    DENVER — Within an hour of FOX31 Denver discovering a hidden camera, which was positioned to capture and record the license plates and facial features of customers leaving a Golden Post Office, the device was ripped from the ground and disappeared.

    FOX31 Denver investigative reporter Chris Halsne confirmed the hidden camera and recorder is owned and operated by the United State Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement branch of the U.S. Postal Service.

    [........]

    Lee Tien, an attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, says more and more federal agencies are getting away with conducting surveillance and collecting personal data of citizens without a warrant signed by a judge.

    “Part of being a responsible, constitutional government is explaining why it is doing surveillance on its citizens,” Lee told Halsne. “The government should not be collecting this kind of sensitive information. And it is sensitive! It`s about your relationships, your associations with other people, which can be friendship or political or religious. The idea that we give up that privacy simply because we use the U.S. mail is, I think, a silly idea.”

    Lee says EFF has been fighting for greater government transparency when it comes to the way agencies like the FBI and the National Security Agency have been vacuuming up massive amounts of cell phone, email and license plates data and storing them in a central computer system.

    Lee says, “The idea that they would be able to keep that information forever and search through it whenever they want to – that seems very, very wrong to us because it means you’ll be able to accumulate over time a lot of innocent peoples’ information and then use it in the kinds of ways that would not be overseen by any kind of court or independent third party.”

    FOX31 Denver filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests with the Postal Service, Postal Inspection Service, and Office of the Inspector General in an attempt to identify the cost and scope of the Postal Inspection Service surveillance program.

    None of the agencies could provide a written data retention policy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 10:13pm

      Re:

      None of the agencies could provide a written data retention policy

      Understandable, I mean it's hard to provide something that doesn't exist after all, and 'Grab everything, keep it forever, never delete any of it' probably wouldn't go over very well if they were honest enough to admit to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:52pm

    Quality

    That would seem to provide an incentive to store very low quality black and white video with no audio to reduce storage costs. How useful is 320x240 security footage?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    KRA, 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:02pm

    Cameras in pubs--Lord have mercy. I am so glad that my own misspent youth took place long before any of this surveillance technology existed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 10:30pm

    First steps to turning security cameras into surveillance cameras

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MoHawkXX (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 3:28am

    File size

    Just wondering how much space would be needed.
    http://www.hdslr-cinema.com/tools/filesize.php

    640x480 for 6 months 8bit colour, here are the different compressions
    8-bit RGB sequence: 358.3 TB
    'Prores422 HQ': 63.4 TB
    'JPEG2000': 35.2 TB
    'MPEG2 High': 21.6 TB

    That is alot of space needed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 6:58am

      Re: File size

      Hey, totally not a problem, I'm sure a government agency or two will be more than happy to step up and offer technical assistance with companies and venues that might struggle with the requirements, by offering the use of government servers and hard drives for storing the required files.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 4:57am

    safety of corrupt government officials of course.

    Safety of locking up dangerous political dissidents and any other undesirables.

    First you set up a system to track everyone then you start making the things you do not like illegal, so much easier to justify kicking in people's homes and carrying off people in the night if you know where they are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 6:52am

    I see how having such wealth of data isn't problematic in terms of digging through it if you have specific dates and times so it's not that the info will be useless (it would if you were looking for something general like "terrorism" and there wasn't any leads *wink wink*NSA*wink wink*). This doesn't invalidate the privacy concerns and worse, the misuse of the data. A much narrower period could make sense but after six months what do the Ecuadorian Government expect? Some ghost reporting to the police about something that happened this long ago?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2015 @ 7:38am

    "but after six months what do the Ecuadorian Government expect? "

    Piecing together drug gangs, human traffickers, prostitution rackets, organized crime (other). I could see how they might want to put some people in jail for a very long time and this would be one way to gather evidence. Girls forced into prostitution probably don't line up at a police station the 2nd day to point the finger at the traffickers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2015 @ 9:14am

    Question...

    Does that say anything about the picture quality of the camera?

    If not: use the lowest quality camera and/or intentionally set out of focus.

    (Side note: in my area massage parlors have cameras outside and in reception for live viewing. I've yet to see or hear that they have a recorder of any kind.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan G Difino, 14 Mar 2015 @ 11:26am

    That's a no brainer

    Ecuador Requires Hotels, Pubs, Clubs, Dance Halls And Massage Parlors To Store CCTV Footage Of Their Public Areas For Six Months

    That's an easy one. Just get rid of the CCTVs.

    Dduh!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2015 @ 11:30am

      Re: That's a no brainer

      Yeah, and its not like the Equador government has offered to pay these establishments for their compliance either, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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