The federal Privacy Commissioner has just released a report giving guidance on the privacy implications of police wearing body-worn cameras, and what police need to do to comply with privacy laws.
It points out that the issues around body-worn cameras are more complex than on fixed cameras.
As is usually the case with privacy issues, it is about balance – in this case balancing the advantages of the cameras with privacy concerns.
The report has this to say about balance:
There are various reasons why a LEA might contemplate adopting BWCs. LEAs could view the use of BWCs as bringing about certain benefits to policing or other enforcement activities. For example, in addition to being used to collect evidence, BWCs have been associated with a decrease in the number of public complaints against police officers as well as a decrease in the use of force by police officers. At the same time, BWCs have significant privacy implications that need to be weighed against the anticipated benefits. As the Supreme Court of Canada has noted, an individual does not automatically forfeit his or her privacy interests when in public, especially given technological developments that make it possible for personal information “to be recorded with ease, distributed to an almost infinite audience, and stored indefinitely”. And as the Supreme Court added more recently, the right to informational privacy includes anonymity which “permits individuals to act in public places but to preserve freedom from identification and surveillance.”
It goes on to talk about the tests to determine if the intrusion is justified, and what uses and safeguards are appropriate.
Its worth a read even if just for its general discussion around cameras and privacy.
Cross-posted to Slaw