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New video surveillance guidelines aim to protect privacy

The European data protection supervisor has issued new guidelines on video surveillance aimed at minimising its impact on privacy and other fundamental rights.

The European data protection supervisor has issued new guidelines on video surveillance aimed at minimising its impact on privacy and other fundamental rights.

They set out how to evaluate the need for video surveillance and how to conduct it without infringing people's privacy and other rights.

The guidelines apply to existing as well as future systems, and each institution has until 1 January 2011 to bring its practices into compliance.

The publication of the guidelines follows a consultation draft published on 7 July 2009.

Assistant European data protection supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli said fundamental rights were at stake, such as the right to privacy in the workplace. Security and these rights were not mutually exclusive, he said.

The guidelines gave each institution some discretion on how to design its own system. This would prevent rigid or bureaucratic interpretation of data protection concerns from hampering justified security needs or other legitimate objectives, he said.

"Each institution must also demonstrate that it complies with data protection requirements," he said.

The European data protection supervisor encouraged impact assessments, but prior checking by the European data protection supervisor was still needed for video surveillance that involved large inherent risks, such as covert surveillance or complex, dynamic preventive surveillance systems.

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