International Video Surveillance Laws / Regulations

By: John Honovich, Published on Jul 17, 2010

In this note, we examine laws and regulations for video surveillance developed by a variety of countries including references to documentation and details on these approaches.

US vs Europe/UK

In our current review, we found a key element in evaluating a country's legal stance on video surveillance to be their position on privacy expectation. For instance, in the US, a common refrain is "one cannot have an expectation of privacy in public places" (see Wikipedia entry). However, this is far from universal, with many countries, especially in Europe and in the UK Commonwealth. An important example is the European Union's Data Protection Directive that emphasizes the need for transparency and evaluating the proportionality of privacy infringing measures such as video surveillance.

European Laws

European laws towards video surveillance generally require posting signs of surveilled areas (ensuring transparency), review by a privacy commission and sometimes approval by a government organization before deployment. Two good surveys of European country positioning on video surveillance regulation come from the BBC and Surveillance & Society Journal [link no longer available]. Additionally, systems can be shut down in some countries if it is found that the surveillance system is excessive relative to the goal desired (principle of proportionality). A good example of shutting down systems can be found in a study of Canada's laws on video surveillance (see report [link no longer available], starting on page 32, where they note, "By far the most legally challenged privacy-affecting technology in Canada is CCTV").

UK Laws

The UK is the most often cited country with regards to CCTV regulation. The UK has a Code of Practice for CCTV [link no longer available] based on the Data Protection Act, that if not met can result in a criminal conviction. Especially noteworthy elements of this code include requiring organizations to register their systems and to allow any person to request access to video of themselves on an organization's systems (maximum ~$15 fee can be charged). Additionally, the UK requires security guards and surveillance operators to have government licensing (see the SIA licensing handbook for details). Obtaining a license requires a background check, 20+ hours of coursework, ~$400 application fee and passing of an exam. One strange point is that convicts with multiple year prison sentences can become licensed security or CCTV operators (covered in great detail in the criminal record section of the appliation guide). On the other hand, significant debate exists on enforcing such laws in the UK (see I4S discussion).

US Laws

In the US, outside of spying in homes or bathrooms (so called 'Peeping Tom' laws), minimal regulation or case law exists to limit video surveillance. The most informative government examination of surveillance comes from a 2007 review by the Department of Homeland Security. Their position is to encourage 'best practices' similar to what is done in Europe. However, the DHS is clear that these are aspirational rather than regulatory. In general, unless the use of surveillance is considered a 'search' (a Fourth Ammendment violation), surveillance will be found to be legal. US Courts have found that surveillance using publicly available technology or that which is similar to what the human eye can see is not a violation. Privacy advocates have argued that video surveillance can be a First Amendment violation (creating a chilling effect on free speech as people fear monitoring their protests, etc.) However, this has never been upheld in any cases. See our review of US law and search standards for video surveillance.

2 reports cite this report:

Security Press Wrong About New NY State Video Law on Aug 29, 2017
SecurityInfoWatch wrongly declared: N.Y. governor signs bill outlawing video...
SIA Security Privacy: Weak US Guidelines on Sep 14, 2010
The largest US security trade association, SIA, has issued very weak security...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in...
AI/Smart Camera Tutorial on Feb 20, 2020
Cameras with video analytics, sometimes called 'Smart' camera or 'AI'...
FDA Gives Guidance on 'Coronavirus' Thermal Fever Detection Systems on Mar 30, 2020
The US FDA has given IPVM guidance on the use of thermal fever detection...
Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Dynamic vs Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Apr 16, 2020
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you...
VMS 101 on Mar 03, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals about video management...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New...
Video Surveillance Architecture 101 on Feb 18, 2020
Video surveillance can be designed and deployed in a number of ways. This 101...
NetApp Presents Hybrid Cloud Video Archive on May 11, 2020
NetApp presented its hybrid S3 cloud video archive at the April 2020 IPVM New...
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ Are Medical Devices, Per FDA Definition, Contrary Claims Are False on Jun 12, 2020
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ series products are medical devices as defined by the US...
Verkada: "IPVM Should Never Be Your Source of News" on Jul 02, 2020
Verkada was unhappy with IPVM's recent coverage declaring that reading IPVM...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020,...
VSaaS 101 on Mar 25, 2020
Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) is the common industry term for cloud...
NetApp Video Surveillance Profile on Mar 09, 2020
NetApp is increasing its efforts in video surveillance and told IPVM...

Recent Reports

Dangerous Hikvision Fever Camera Showcased by Chilean City on Aug 07, 2020
Deploying a fever camera outdoors, in the rain, with no black body, is...
"Grand Slam" For Pelco's PE Firm, A Risk For Motorola on Aug 07, 2020
The word "Pelco" and "grand slam" have not been said together for many years....
FLIR Stock Falls, Admits 'Decelerating' Demand For Temperature Screening on Aug 07, 2020
Is the boom going to bust for temperature screening? FLIR disappointed...
VSaaS Will Hurt Integrators on Aug 06, 2020
VSaaS will hurt integrators, there is no question about that. How much...
Dogs For Coronavirus Screening Examined on Aug 06, 2020
While thermal temperature screening is the surveillance industry's most...
ADT Slides Back, Disappointing Results, Poor Commercial Performance on Aug 06, 2020
While ADT had an incredible start to the week, driven by the Google...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all of the...
SIA Coaches Sellers on NDAA 889B Blacklist Workarounds on Aug 05, 2020
Last month SIA demanded that NDAA 899B "must be delayed". Now that they have...
ADI Returns To Growth, Back To 'Pre-COVID Levels' on Aug 05, 2020
While ADI was hit hard in April, with revenue declining 21%, the company's...
Exposing Fever Tablet Suppliers and 40+ Relabelers on Aug 05, 2020
IPVM has found 40+ USA and EU companies relabeling fever tablets designed,...
Indian Government Restricts PRC Manufacturers From Public Projects on Aug 04, 2020
In a move that mirrors the U.S. government’s ban on Dahua and Hikvision...
Directory of 201 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Aug 04, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Dahua Loses Australian Medical Device Approval on Aug 04, 2020
Dahua has cancelled its medical device registration after "discussions" with...
Google Invests in ADT, ADT Stock Soars on Aug 03, 2020
Google has announced a $450 million investment in the Florida-based security...