Privacy Ref Blog

Police, Body Cameras, Privacy, and Policy

In the recent past a local police officer was involved in a shooting resulting in a citizen’s death. Soon after, the cry of “if only there was a body camera we would know what happened” was heard. I agree. However any police department needs to put policies in place to protect citizens’ privacy when cameras are used. Similarly, businesses using monitoring technologies need to put policies in place as well.

Dissuading suicide and privacy

A portion of police activities involve citizens who are at a low point in their lives. Public intoxication, threats to injure oneself or others, or other acts that draw police attention often reveal emotions, statements, and actions that people would prefer to be kept between the officer and themselves. If body cameras are used then all of these situations will be recorded. Once the video is recorded, it must be secured so the privacy of these citizens is protected.

I am not referring to illegal actions in the above statement. To clarify, I’ve heard of one police officer who talked a young man out of committing suicide. This was a stellar moment in the officer’s career that should be celebrated, a high point for his department, but a low point for that young man. The department posted the video from that encounter to show the good work the department was involved with after blurring the face of the young man and redacting his name when used in conversation.

However, the encounter took place in the young man’s room. There was enough items displayed on the walls and on the shelves for other members of the community to identify the young man. In spite of the efforts of the police department, the young man remained identifiable. Even though a police officer was involved, making this a public event, I suggest that, in spite of all good attempts, the privacy of the young man was violated.

Video and after the fact searches

When an officer enters a room to address a situation, the focus is on the event happening before them. The camera, however, takes in a much wider view of the environment. The actions of others in the room and the items that are in clear sight are all captured by the camera.

There are good, valid reasons to review the video at a later time. However, to analyze the video with the intent to detect illegal activity or “search the room” for things that may have been missed by the officer’s eye, I suggest, is a privacy violation as well.

People do not have the opportunity to object to the use of cameras when the police are involved. So, are you inviting in an officer to address a situation or are you inviting in the officer and video analysts as well.

Policies need to be established by police departments using body cameras to balance the capture of evidence with the protection of citizen’s privacy. This is not dissimilar to what businesses need to do with respect to monitoring activities employers undertake.

How does this apply to business?

Businesses have various mechanisms for monitoring the actions of their employees. Cameras, id badges with RFID chips, eDiscovery, network traffic monitors, facial recognition, and GPSs are just a few of the mechanisms. There is good reason to do this and, given the right policies, I endorse these practices. However, the policies are the key.

Provide notice to your employees as to what monitoring may be done, how the collect information may be used, and commit to protecting the privacy of any personal activities captured that do not effect the business’s health.

Privacy Ref provides consulting and assessment services to build and improve organizational privacy programs. For more information call Privacy Ref at (888) 470-1528 or email us at info@privacyref.com

Posted on October 29, 2015 by Bob Siegel
Tags: , , , ,

« »

No Responses

Comments are closed.


« »

Subscribe to our mailing list

Please fill out the form below.

Required

Want to find out more?

Simply go to the contact page, fill out the form, and someone from Privacy Ref will be in touch with you. You can also send an email to info@privacyref.com or call (888) 470-1528.

News

May 10, 2017

Predictive Breach Cost Model
Download our predictive breach cost modelhere.

Latest Blog Posts

September 18, 2017

Burying your head in the sand won’t make Data Protection requirements go away
Recently, I had dinner with  a colleague that I had not seen in several years. Their company, a multinational with global operations, had undergone several changes in that time. When the dust settled, this friend had been tapped as "privacy manager". Along with corporate counsel (part time for privacy), they decided that, even under GDPR, they did not need a Privacy / Data Protection Officer . Huh? Continue reading this post...

August 14, 2017

Privacy Ref and CyberDefenses Bring Privacy and Security Together
There is a saying that you can have security without privacy, but you cannot have privacy without security. While privacy and security are both concerned with the protection of information held by an organization, security provides the means to meet the business requirements identified to meet privacy demands from regulators, customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Privacy Ref works with our clients to improve their business and operational practices for protecting personal information. Increasingly our clients’ have been looking for services to supplement their security practices, tools, and expertise. CyberDefenses fills this role. Continue reading this post...

Other Recent Posts

PRIVACY REF