International Video Surveillance Laws / Regulations

Author: 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

GDPR / ICO Complaint Filed Against IFSEC Show Facial Recognition on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM has filed a complaint against IFSEC’s parent company UBM based on our concern that the conference violates core GDPR principles on...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...
Remove Dahua and Hikvision Gov Installs Required By US House Bill Ban on Jun 06, 2018
The final released US House Bill HR 5515 verifies that it not only prohibits the purchasing of Dahua and Hikvision products, it requires removing...
Panasonic Sells Security Camera Patents To Troll on Jun 04, 2018
In a highly atypical move, Panasonic has sold off nearly 100 security camera patents to one of the most well-known patent trolls. This comes just...
Dahua Products Are Not GDPR Compliant, No Products Can Be on May 29, 2018
Dahua products are neither GDPR-compliant nor certified, contrary to their marketing. The reason is that no products can be, as the EU does not...
Amazon's "Dangerous New Face Recognition Technology" Says ACLU on May 23, 2018
The ACLU has caused a stir, with a new report Amazon Teams Up With Law Enforcement to Deploy Dangerous New Face Recognition Technology,...
Genetec Clearance Face Detection / Redaction Test on May 14, 2018
Privacy regulations such as GDPR (EU Public Privacy), HIPAA (US Medical Privacy), and FERPA (US Student Privacy) are driving video surveillance...
Global Real-Time Video Surveillance - EarthNow on Apr 20, 2018
A new company, EarthNow, with backing from Bill Gates, Airbus and more, is claiming that: Users will be able to see places on Earth with a delay...
GDPR For Video Surveillance Guide on Apr 12, 2018
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25, but there is much confusion and no clear guidelines on...
VMS New Developments Spring 2018 (Avigilon, Exacqvision, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix) on Apr 04, 2018
What's new with VMS software? In this report, we examine new features and releases for Spring 2018 to track different areas of potential...

Most Recent Industry Reports

'Secure Channel' OSDP Access Control Examined on Jun 21, 2018
Despite claiming to be better than Wiegand, OSDP's initial releases did not address the lack of encryption between reader and controller, leaving...
Most Wanted Improvements In Manufacturer Technical Support (Statistics) on Jun 21, 2018
5 key areas of improvement and 1 clear wanted support feature were voiced by 140+ integrator responses to: What improvement in manufacturer...
Last Chance - Save $50 - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 20, 2018
Today, Thursday the 21st is the last chance to save $50 on registration. Register now and save. This is the only networking course designed...
GDPR / ICO Complaint Filed Against IFSEC Show Facial Recognition on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM has filed a complaint against IFSEC’s parent company UBM based on our concern that the conference violates core GDPR principles on...
IFSEC Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM is live from London reporting on the IFSEC show. The Chinese have taken over the UK, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Mobotix Releases 'Move' Into 21st Century on Jun 20, 2018
For years, Mobotix stood resolutely against, well, every other manufacturer, selling it as a virtue: MOBOTIX equipment is designed with no...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
Axis Guardian - Cloud VMS And Alarm Monitoring - Released on Jun 19, 2018
Axis has struggled to deliver a cloud-based managed service video platform. Video service providers have utilized AVHS for over a decade, and have...
IPVM Vulnerability Scanner Released on Jun 18, 2018
IPVM is proud to announce video surveillance's first and only cybersecurity vulnerability scanner. This tool allows quickly and simply...
Hikvision Corrects False Cybersecurity Announcement on Jun 18, 2018
Hikvision has corrected a false cybersecurity announcement that claimed a British government-sponsored program endorsed the cybersecurity of...

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