06/03/2002

CCTV operators warned on Data Protection Act compliance

Northern Ireland organisations using Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) surveillance cameras may be in danger of being penalised thousands of pounds worth of fines for not complying with Data Protection legislation.

Under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, all commercial CCTV systems should have been registered with the government Information Commissioner Elizabeth France by October last year. Organisations that have not yet complied with the provision are liable to pay fines of up to £5,000.

The legislation requires CCTV systems to be clearly indicated with signs warning members of the public that they are being filmed, the reason the system has been installed and the contact details of who is operating the system.

The Information Commissioner Elizabeth France has warned that there are businesses claiming to be able to register organisations when they have no statutory power to do so.

One company had been sending letters to health professionals demanding money for data registration warning: "Failure to comply with the Data Protection Registrar constitutes a criminal offence liable to a large fine." While the statement may be true, the company does not represent the Data Protection Registrar. The company charges a fee of £111.63.

The Information Commissioner has asked businesses to be "wary" of the following companies: Data Protection Act Registration Service, Data Protection Agency Services Ltd, Data Collection Enforcement Agency, DPA Registration Agency and Data Protection Act Registration Agency.

"I advise data controllers to ignore any approach made by these businesses, who appear to be charging up to £95 plus VAT for notification. Other than paying the annual statutory notification fee of £35, on which no VAT is payable, there is no charge made by this office to any data controller wishing to notify," she said.

There are around 300,000 CCTV cameras monitoring public and private property throughout the British Isles.

For further information visit the Information Commissioners website at www.dataprotection.gov.uk

(GMcG)

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