Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance

Oct 06 2015

Many institutions turn to video surveillance to help them fulfil their obligations to protect the safety of individuals and the security of their equipment and property. Video footage captured by cameras is regularly used to assist in the investigation of wrongdoing. However, the use of these surveillance technologies can put individuals’ privacy at risk. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider both whether it is appropriate to install video surveillance and how it is used.

This publication brings together our previous guidance on video surveillance and responds to new issues and factors, including appropriate retention periods, notices of collection and disclosures to law enforcement agencies.

The guidelines canvas the requirements set out in Ontario’s public-sector privacy legislation regarding the collection, use, retention and disclosure of personal information and discuss how these requirements apply to video surveillance technologies. They also include best practices for institutions that are considering video surveillance, such as conducting a privacy impact assessment, consulting the public and establishing comprehensive policies and procedures for the system.

Individuals have a general right of access to government-held information, including members of the public who may have been involved in an incident in an area under surveillance. As such, public bodies must be prepared to process these requests including developing protocols for the redaction of personal information from the video footage where appropriate.

In each section, concrete examples clarify obligations and best practices. By following these guidelines, institutions can use video surveillance technologies, while protecting individuals’ privacy in accordance with their obligations under Ontario’s privacy legislation.