The Independent has highlighted the use of the increasingly sophisticated cameras which they claim may be in breach of human rights laws. Andrew Rennison, the new surveillance camera commissioner, has predicted that there will be a public outcry if facial recognition systems and HD cameras are allowed to loom over our public areas.
Rennison said: “The technology has overtaken our ability to regulate it. I’m convinced that if we don’t regulate it properly – ie, the technological ability to use millions of images we capture – there will be a huge public backlash. It is the Big Brother scenario playing out large. It’s the ability to pick out your face in a crowd from a camera which is probably half a mile away.”
The first official code of conduct for CCTV use will report to Parliament in April 2013 and the commissioner has said that he will ensure that “we remain Article 8 [right to a private life] compliant in this country”.
The commissioner is absolutely right to warn about the risks of new CCTV technology. However, the Home Office has undermined the commissioner from the start by giving him absolutely no powers to act when he views that wrong doing may have occurred.
Proper regulation of CCTV needs someone to have the power to inspect cameras and punish those breaking the law. If the Home Office is serious about this issue then the surveillance camera commissioner needs proper powers to protect our privacy.