Privacy commission lays out rules on CCTVs

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The National Privacy Commission released guidelines on the use, access and storage of closed-circuit televisions, including the need to determine their purpose before installing in establishments and properties. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 17) — The National Privacy Commission released guidelines on the use, access and storage of closed-circuit televisions, including the need to determine their purpose before installing in establishments and properties.

The agency on Tuesday told entities that put up CCTVs in public places that the use, retention and destruction of footage are considered processing of personal data under the Data Privacy Act. It said establishments must have a legitimate purpose before affixing the devices. These include compliance with a law or regulation, security of properties and protection of important interests, ensuring public safety, among other specific uses. Processing CCTV data and determining its location must only be done to fulfill that purpose, the commission stressed.

For example, if a household would like to install a CCTV outside its home, then it should not be facing outward, where it can surveil beyond the property.

The agency's Advisory No. 2020-04 stated that establishments should also post visible notices in points of entry or other conspicuous areas to inform the public that they are being monitored through a CCTV. These entities should also have a CCTV policy that states who is authorized to use and access the devices, and lays out the procedure for providing or disposing recordings.

The commission also reminded that the cameras should not be placed in spaces with "heightened expectation of privacy" such as toilets, fitting rooms and breastfeeding rooms.

A person whose image was recorded by the CCTV has a right to get a copy of personal data from the footage, the guidelines said. A third party may also be granted access but with limited purposes, such as for law enforcement and criminal investigations, a court order, for administrative investigations, media request and other requests. However, they can also be denied a copy of the recordings should there be incomplete information on the requested footage, if the request is "frivolous or vexatious" and if the purpose is contrary to law, morals and public policy.

Establishments can also reject requests if the burden for providing access is unreasonable, the footage has been deleted already when they received the request, and if sharing the copy would put an ongoing criminal investigation at risk, the commission said.

See the full guidelines here.