Privacy Advisor

CCTV: A Need For Clarity

June 1, 2008

By Pascale Gelly  

CCTV: A Need For Clarity

While the French government is considering tripling the number of closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in public areas within two years (30,000 are expected), the French data protection authority (CNIL) addressed a memo to the Ministry of Interior to stress the need for clarification of the rules applicable to these systems.

Currently, two distinct sets of rules co-exist and intermingle with regard to CCTV: The Law of 21 January 1995, which subjects publically located CCTVs to prior authorization by a local administrative authority, called "Prefecture;" and the data protection act of 6 January 1978 which applies to CCTV implemented either in "private" areas, such as business premises or in association with biometrics. Moreover, the CNIL considers that all digital systems are subject to the data protection act. The superposition of texts creates confusion among users of CCTV systems and duplication of filings.

The CNIL recommends the government to subject all CCTV devices, wherever located, to the control of the CNIL and it points to an IPSOS survey whereby 79 percent of individuals expressed a wish for CCTV to be under the control of an independent body to prevent risks of misuse and to guarantee civil liberties.