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. 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, 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 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 surveillance of neighbors SDM wrongly affirmed: It is now illegal to...
SIA Security Privacy: Weak US Guidelines on Sep 14, 2010
The largest US security trade association, SIA, has issued very weak security guidelines. Their so-called 12 point "Privacy Framework" is not only...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Aug 13, 2019
Biometrics are commonly used in phones, but how frequently are they used for access? 150+ integrators told us how often they use biometrics,...
Milestone "GDPR-ready" Certification Claim Critiqued on Aug 12, 2019
Milestone is touting that its latest XProtect VMS is "GDPR-ready" with a 'European Privacy Seal'. However, our investigation raises significant...
Australia Security Full Show Report on Jul 25, 2019
IPVM went to Australia attending the 3 days of the Australia Security Exhibition: This was held at the ICC Sydney, as shown below: In this...
RaySharp Revealed - Major China OEM For Western Consumer Video Surveillance on Jul 02, 2019
RaySharp is mostly unknown, even among people in the video surveillance industry, though it is a major supplier of OEM surveillance equipment such...
Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
IFSEC 2019 Show Report on Jun 19, 2019
The UK's largest trade show, IFSEC, is underway and IPVM has been examining what is new and happening at the show. Inside, we cover: Huawei...
The Scheme Hikvision and China Importers Use To Avoid Tariffs on Jun 17, 2019
Hikvision and numerous China importers are avoiding 25% tariffs by including an SD card slot in their IP cameras to claim they are 'digital still...
OpenALPR Doubles Prices on Jun 06, 2019
There is no 'race to the bottom' in cloud / AI video surveillance. In May, Verkada increased their prices. Now, OpenALPR is doing the same with a...
Nortek and SDS Fight Over Failed Settlement on Jun 05, 2019
Distributor SDS said they reached a deal with Nortek but Nortek says no settlement was reached and the suit is still on. In this post, based on...
IndigoVision Control Center VMS Tested on May 30, 2019
IPVM's last test of IndigoVision's VMS was in 2010, which found enterprise VMS features and a simple client interface. but no 3rd party camera...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Anyvision Facial Recognition Tested on Aug 21, 2019
Anyvision is aiming for $1 billion in revenue by 2022, backed by $74 million in funding. But does their performance live up to the hype they have...
JCI Sues Wyze on Aug 21, 2019
The mega manufacturer / integrator JCI has sued the fast-growing $20 camera Seattle startup Wyze. Inside this note: Share the court...
Dahua 4K Camera Shootout on Aug 20, 2019
Dahua's new Pro Series 4K N85CL5Z claims to "deliver superior images in all lighting and environmental conditions", but how does this compare to...
ZK Teco Atlas Access Control Tested on Aug 20, 2019
Who needs access specialists? China-based ZKTeco claims its newest access panel 'makes it very easy for anyone to learn and install access control...
Uniview Beats Intel In Trademark Lawsuit on Aug 19, 2019
Uniview has won a long-running trademark lawsuit brought by Intel, with Beijing's highest court reversing an earlier Intel win, centered on...
Suprema Biometric Mass Leak Examined on Aug 19, 2019
While Suprema is rarely discussed even within the physical security market, the South Korean biometrics manufacturer made global news this past...
Verkada People And Face Analytics Tested on Aug 16, 2019
This week, Verkada released "People Analytics", including face analytics that they describe is a "game-changing feature" that "pushes the...
Dahua OEM Directory 2019 on Aug 16, 2019
US Government banned Dahua OEMs for dozens of companies. The following directory includes 40+ of those companies with a graphic and links to...
Installation Course - Register Now on Aug 15, 2019
Register Now for the September 2019 Video Surveillance Install Course. This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
Axis Suffers Outage, Provides Postmortem on Aug 15, 2019
This week, Axis suffered an outage impacting their website and cloud services. Inside this note, we examined what happened, what was impacted...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact