Saturday, May 11, 2013
Council Surveillance Cameras Could be Banned in Australia
While some countries have embraced general camera surveillance others are still cautious. The problem is that in national constitutions people have a right to privacy. Cameras placed in public streets clearly trample over this right.
Nowra, a town in New South Wales, has come face-to-face with this issue. An Australian rights campaigner, Adam Bonner, took the local council to a tribunal and a decision was made to order the council to desist from breaching the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act. It was not an instruction to turn the cameras off but it had the same result.
The Administrative Decisions Tribunal New South Wales decision has thrown a spanner into the works nationwide. State bodies set precedents for national courts. It has shown, however, that people can act locally to stop camera surveillance at local government level. One person has stopped a council in its tracks.
The Nowra Council did not help itself by telling the tribunal that the cameras were not operating when they were. Just how the council will ask people if they give permission to be filmed is unknown. Just telling them with a sign will not satisfy the tribunal decision. Signage already there is deemed by the tribunal to be insufficient. This also brings into question whether police have the right to install fixed speed cameras.
In the UK burroughs with no camera surveillance have higher arrest levels. CCTV is not an effective crime deterrent. People see it as punishment for offences rather than as a preventative method.