£35 per year – CCTV owners falling foul of ICO registration risk £500,000 fine

Recent fines remind bosses not to fall foul of data protection law

It’s only £35 per year, but businesses are still failing to register  their CCTV systems with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)  and risking a hefty fine.

According to a nationwide CCTV installation and servicing company,  there’s no excuse for this omission, which could leave companies  hundreds of pounds out of pocket and with a stain on their reputation  from the negative publicity.

Yorkshire-based CCTV.co.uk says that it’s vital that businesses stick  to the letter of the law with their camera systems, not only for their  protection of their staff and property, but also for anybody who comes  onto their premises, whether with good or foul intent.

“Some companies think they can skip their Data Protection Act  responsibilities,” says CCTV.co.uk spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe,  “But the sad fact is that their lack of compliance will almost  certainly come to light the second they try to use camera footage for  a prosecution.

“And that evidence could even be thrown out of court.”

The most recent case is a prosecution brought by the ICO against a  Coventry-based business which was using a non-registered CCTV system
The case was only brought to court after the owner repeatedly ignored  reminder letters to register their premises.
The owner told magistrates that she thought the ICO’s  reminder  letters were ‘spam’.
Local magistrates fined the owner of the company over £650, including  court costs.

CCTV: Responsibility through technology

“When your system is ‘evidence-ready’ with well-serviced cameras in  the right locations providing date-stamped footage, it’s almost  impossible for a suspect to evade identification,” he says.

Legally-produced camera footage has been responsible for thousands of  convictions and millions of pounds of saving to British businesses,  and it’s not an exaggeration to say that camera systems have literally  saved both jobs and lives. “But they have to be used responsibly,”  says Ratcliffe.

It’s when companies evade their legal responsibilities that they could  find themselves in trouble, and even then the ICO does its best to  avoid court, preferring to advise companies as a first resort.

“It’s all very simple,” says Ratcliffe, “If you record images of  people as part of your business activities, then you must register.

“And there’s no defence in claiming ignorance of the law – we advise  all our commercial clients to get their registration in order before  they switch on their cameras,” he says.

What are your obligations?

Business owners need to ensure that:

They have registered with the ICO  (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/register/)
Recordings are not kept longer than necessary
Use of recorded data does not breach people’s rights
Data is kept securely and it not passed to foreign countries

ICO can impose penalties up to £500,000 for the most severe breaches  of the regulations.

What if I’ve got a domestic CCTV system?

Most domestic CCTV systems do not fall under the Data Protection Act.
However, if your recordings include people outside of your property  (such as a road, path, or even a neighbour’s property), then you may  have to register.
Use the Self Assesment tool to find out  (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/register/self-assessment/)

Privacy is everybody’s business

CCTV.co.uk’s Jonathan Ratcliffe says that in a society when we are  recorded more than ever before, the law exists to ensure that your  legal day-to-day comings-and-goings remain private.

And that means everybody using a camera system agreeing to the same  set of standards.

“CCTV is a beneficial tool for any company, but you have to play by  the rules,” Ratcliffe says.

“So, if your business collects data, make sure you’re onside. Don’t  think you can dodge the law.”