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Position No. 1/2006 - Operating Video Recording Systems in the Light of Data Protection Law


January 2006

Operation of a video recording system is considered personal data processing, if besides the video surveillance itself the captured images are recorded, or information stored in the recording device and at the same time the recordings, or selected information serve to the purpose of identification of individuals in context with a certain conduct.

The video surveillance of individuals itself is not a personal data processing pursuant the Act No. 101/2000 Coll., as it does not falls within the meaning of Article 4(e) of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll. It does not eliminate, however, the application of other legal regulations, especially the provisions of the Civil Code regulating conditions for the protection of personality.

Data stored in a recording device, either images or sounds, are personal data on condition an individual might be identified directly or indirectly on the ground of these recordings (i.e. information from the image or sound recordings enable, if indirectly to identify a person). An individual is identifiable, if the image on which is he recorded reveals his distinctive marks (especially his face) and the full identification of a person is possible, if these characteristics are matched with other data at disposal. A personal data in its complexity then consists of those identifiers that make it possible to link the respective person with a certain conduct captured on the video shooting.

Personal data processing by means of a video recording system is legitimate:

a) in fulfilling the tasks imposed by the law (e.g. Act on the Police of the Czech Republic); in these cases it is necessary to observe the provisions of the law in question,

b) with the data subject's consent; it is virtually feasible only in very limited cases when it is possible to identify explicitly the group of persons frequenting within the reach of the camera,

c) without the data subject's consent under application of the Article 5(2)(e) of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll. The conditions, however, laid down in paragraph 4 are to be observed.

Obligations of a controller who operates a video recording system equipped with a recording device:

a) Video surveillance must not excessively interfere with one's privacy. A video recording system may basically be deployed, if the intended purpose cannot be achieved in another manner (a property, for instance, can be protected from robbery by a lock). Furthermore, it is not acceptable to install a video recording system in rooms used exclusively for private purposes (e.g. toilettes, showers). It is, of course, possible to offer the data subjects a choice between alternatives (it is possible, for instance, to monitor the cloak-room of a swimming pool on condition a space is reserved for changing that is not monitored).

b) Specification of the intended purpose. The purpose of recording must first be specified unambiguously and be in line with the important, legally protected interests of the controller (e.g. protection of property against robbery). The recordings may be used only in connection with investigation of an event harming these important, legally protected interests of the controller. The legitimacy of the usage of recordings for other purpose must be limited to a significant public interest, e.g. fight against street criminality.

c) Retention period for the recordings is to be fixed. The data retention period should not exceed the maximum time limit eligible for fulfilling the purpose of the video surveillance. Data should be stored within a time loop over, for instance, twenty-four hours, if a permanently guarded property is in question, or over a longer period not reaching over several days and they should be erased after this period elapsed. It does not apply for recordings made by the police pursuant a special law. Only in case of an existing security incident the data should be disclosed to the law enforcement authorities, the court or other entitled subject.

d) Appropriate security measures are to be ensured in order to protect the recording systems, transfer ways and data carriers on which recordings are stored from unauthorized or incidental access, alteration, destruction, loss or other unauthorised processing – see Article 13 of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll.

e) Data subject must be informed in an appropriate manner that a video recording system is in operation (e.g. through a notice placed in the monitored space), see Article 11(5) of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll., except where special rights and obligations ensuing from a special law are being exercised.

f) Other data subject's rights are to be guaranteed, namely the right to access the data processed and the right to object to their processing, see Article 1 of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll.

g) Personal data processing is to be registered with the Office for Personal Data Protection except where special rights or obligations ensuing from a special law are being applied, see Article 18(1)(b) of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll.



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