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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
'No evidence' of CCTV data breach
CCTV cameras
The Information Commissioner is against covert surveillance
The Information Commissioner's Office says it has not seen evidence which suggests that most CCTV systems are breaching its own code of practice.

Newly-launched industry body Camerawatch has said its own research showed 90% of CCTV was not complying.

Camerawatch said this could have an impact if images from incorrectly used CCTV were presented as legal evidence.

But the ICO said no audit of CCTV systems had been done: "We don't believe there is any such evidence."

The commissioner's office does not have audit and inspection powers itself, but has enforcement powers and can investigate complaints of CCTV being used in breach of the Data Protection Act.

There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people.

The code of practice, set to be updated shortly, is to help organisations comply with the act and the commissioner's office welcomed Camerawatch's aim of promoting compliance.

Court challenge

Camerawatch director Paul Mackie said breaches of the act could have consequences in court.

"When evidence is presented in court, it could well be that even before they get to court, if the system is deemed to not have been operating under data protection properly - and there are 70 odd points of law, if it's not been run correctly then the evidence could well be challenged," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The code of practice covers such areas as signage, permission and storage of images.

"If you're operating a CCTV system that captures the public, anything apart from one in your own house, then you must be registered with the Information Commissioner.

"And if you're not registered, then it means the system is not compliant with data protection," he said.

"You wouldn't leave your personnel files lying about in an office for anybody to see.

"That's exactly the same as any tapes or information - you wouldn't leave them lying about, you need to keep them stored in a secure area, and within that secure area, you need to have a kind of login procedure, to make sure that you know who has and who hasn't got access to that equipment."

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