Why Recording CCTV is Illegal in These Courthouses

By Carlton Purvis, Published on Mar 13, 2014

Americans expect to see surveillance cameras inside government buildings, especially courtrooms where emotions run high, violent criminals are being transported back and forth, and there’s always an air of unfinished business. In some parts of Canada, however, recording is prohibited in courthouses -- and that’s not just a ban for media, it includes CCTV. In this note, we examine the recent attention focused on Ontario courts after citizens noticed a dome camera in one courtroom.

Background

The Ontario Court of Justice in Caledon, Ontario is under fire for installing a surveillance camera in its courtroom. A few citizens noticed it and tipped off the Toronto Sun. They feel it is a violation of a law that prohibits video recording in courtrooms.

The court says the camera was installed last year. In an interview with court manager, Darlene Noakes, she told me the camera was installed for security and to allow the court officer to simultaneously take care of administrative work while watching over the courtroom.

The Toronto Sun says the court is worried about an up-and-coming violent libertarian movement, however, Noakes says the installation was not in response to any specific threats.

Apparently there was an incident a few years ago too:

The Law

The Ontario Courts of Justice Act prohibits anyone from making video recordings of court proceedings. Specifically, the law says “no person shall take or attempt to take a photograph, motion picture, audio recording or other record capable of producing visual or aural representations by electronic means or otherwise.”

But the recording ban doesn’t just apply to the courtroom, it also prohibits recording people entering or leaving the courtroom or making video recordings of anyone in the building who may be there “for the purpose of attending or leaving a hearing.” That probably covers most people in a courthouse.

If a person was to record they could face a $25,000 fine or six months in jail [link no longer available], or both. The exception to the law is audio recordings which are allowed as long as they are done in an “unobtrusive manner.”

Ontario is the only jurisdiction with this type recording restriction, but overall, electronic coverage of trials in Canada is rare, according to the Canadian Journal of Communication.

Ontario's provincial law enforcement agency says they have seen similar setups in other Ontario courtrooms and that it is legal.


Camera The Most Cost Effective Option

“What we were really looking for when we did the court renovation was a one-way window that would be sufficient for the officer to work and to view the courtroom. This was actually a cheaper alternative. We called it a digital window," Noakes said. The purchase and installation was approved by a regional justice of the peace. They paid $508 for it.

The camera, an Axis M3006 (installed in a corner overlooking the room), is not recording. The court staff interprets the law to mean cameras and recording devices can be present in the courtroom as long as they are not recording or attempting to record. For example, a man was arrested in 2010, not for having a camera in the courtroom, but for refusing to stop recording [link no longer available].

“There are no plans to do any recording, that would be illegal,” Noakes said.

The Toronto Sun questions the effectiveness of that setup.

“What use is a live feed to a multi-tasking court officer if someone suddenly bursts into the courtroom when his eyes are averted?” the paper asks.

Noakes says it's better than the option they had before a camera. The court officer is required to watch the courtroom and complete administrative work and the camera allows him to more effectively do both, she said. In the past an officer had to split his time between the courtroom and the office, leaving the courtroom with no eyes on it at all.

The main value of surveillance cameras is for evidence after the fact. Will this camera help stop a person from pouring a can of gasoline all over the place? Probably not. But it would at least let the court officer see the smoke.

Comments (4) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020,...
Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
Weak ISC West Virtual 2020 on Oct 08, 2020
"I feel like I am attending a carpet cleaner's convention at a grim little...
Cisco Video Surveillance Is Dead, Long Live Cisco Meraki Video Surveillance on Feb 11, 2020
A dozen years ago much of the industry thought that Cisco was destined to...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
Access Visitor Management Systems Guide on Jul 22, 2020
"Who are you, and why are you here?" Facilities that implement Visitor...
Coronavirus Impacting Hikvision and China Manufacturers on Feb 03, 2020
The coronavirus epidemic spreading through China has started to impact video...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Aug 13, 2020
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Integrators Hard Hit By Coronavirus on Mar 18, 2020
Integrators are already being hard hit by Coronavirus as brand new IPVM...
Delayed Egress Access Control Tutorial on Feb 04, 2020
Delayed Egress marks one of the few times locking people into a building is...
ADI Branch Burglary on Apr 03, 2020
A security systems distributor branch is an odd target for burglary but that...

Recent Reports

ISC Brasil Digital Experience 2020 Report on Oct 23, 2020
ISC Brasil 2020 rebranded itself to ISC Digital Experience and, like its...
Top Video Surveillance Service Call Problems 2020 on Oct 23, 2020
3 primary and 4 secondary issues stood out as causing the most problems when...
GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...
Ubiquiti Access Control Tested on Oct 21, 2020
Ubiquiti has become one of the most widely used wireless and switch providers...
Avigilon Aggressive Trade-In Program Takes Aim At Competitors on Oct 20, 2020
Avigilon has launched one of the most aggressive trade-in programs the video...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...
Dahua Revenue Grows But Profits Down, Cause Unclear on Oct 20, 2020
While Dahua's overall revenue was up more than 12% in Q3 2020, a significant...
Illegal Hikvision Fever Screening Touted In Australia, Government Investigating, Temperature References Deleted on Oct 20, 2020
The Australian government told IPVM that they are investigating a Hikvision...
Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic i-PRO presented its X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...