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Guest post: cameras in toilets

Posted on October 18, 2012

One of the most common topics of the emails we receive at Tech Liberty is the placement of video cameras. People worry about them where they work, in the street, and on their neighbour's properties.

This guest post is from Yuri Wierda, a licensed security consultant, and he's concerned about the increasing popularity of security cameras in public toilets:


I have personally refused to install cameras in toilets and have talked a few clients out of doing it. I believe cameras in toilets are immoral and may be illegal. Part of my responsibility when advising people on security is ensuring that they themselves don't break the law.

The argument for cameras in toilets has been that it reduces vandalism.

While there may be signs advising people that there is a camera I do not believe that it justifies it or complies legally. There are several situations where signs will not provide informed consent.

  • Someone may get changed in the toilet and not see the sign.
  • Someone may be blind or illiterate.
  • Someone may be intellectually disabled.
  • Children may be visiting the toilet unaccompanied.

This creates several privacy and legal issues:

  1. The intellectually disabled and children CANNOT legally provide consent to being filmed in the nude or partly clothed. Toilets are places where people adjust their clothing and may be partially clothed. Children and intellectually disabled people will not expect there to be a camera filming them. Filming such an event is illegal (s216G to s216N of the Crimes Act) and potentially can (and should) result in serious criminal charges.
  2. People who have not seen the sign or were unable to read it cannot provide informed consent.

I am appalled that the police has provided advice that it is not illegal.

About Thomas Beagle

Co-founder and spokesperson for Tech Liberty
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  1. Under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 s131(1) it is also illegal to have in your possession any objectionable images. (Even if you didn’t know they are objectionable)


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