Big Brother Is Watching You!

But what can you do about it? Mr Hammond contacted me last week via email with a problem regarding CCTV. He explained that he lives in a block of flats where the management agent has installed CCTV.

cctvOne of the cameras covers his front door meaning that he is captured on camera every time he enters and leaves his property. Naturally Mr Hammond feels that this is a violation of his rights and asked me if there is anything that he can do?

Mr Hammond is not alone with this problem. I have received many letters complaining about the same issue over the past few years. I also received a letter from Mrs Gardner with a complaint about CCTV. She explained that there is a council CCTV system almost directly opposite her house, which is positioned at the top of a lamppost like installation. The camera, which is a dome camera and therefore able to view at 360 degrees, is positioned slightly higher than her top windows and she feels that it is therefore possible for the camera to record all that is going on within her house and her front garden. Another common theme has been where a neighbour has installed CCTV on their house and pointed the camera directly at the complainant’s house or garden, often due to the fact that there is an on-going feud between them.

Wherever we go about our daily business these days, it appears that we will never be too far away from being captured on CCTV and we really are becoming a ‘big brother’ culture. If you have a video camera that is facing towards your private property here’s what you need to know:

The law in this area is fairly complicated and unfortunately not very clear. However, there are two laws that may help with CCTV :

Data Protection Act 1998 – This only applies to businesses and organisations, so not individuals. It will therefore apply to Mr Hammonds management company but not to your neighbour if they have CCTV installed.

If you’re concerned about a company’s use of CCTV, you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which deals with Data Protection Act matters. You will need to give them details of the business/organisation that owns the CCTV, the location of the camera in question and explain that your personal rights are being violated as the camera is capturing images of you and your private property. I would advise that you take pictures of the CCTV in question and provide a short statement explaining how you feel harassed due to its presence.

To make a complaint go to, call: 0303 123 1113 or write to: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Human Rights Act – This law sets out various rights that each person in the UK has – one of these is a right to privacy. If you have CCTV pointing directly at your property there must be a good argument to say that you have had your privacy violated and even that the use of the camera in this way is tantamount to harassment. The first thing to do is to ask the owner or operator of the CCTV to move it so that your private property is not covered. You should make this request in writing and keep a copy. Within the letter you should quote both the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act and explain clearly why you feel harassed by having the CCTV pointing towards your private property. If they ignore you report the matter to the police and tell them that your rights are being violated contrary to the Human Rights Act and that you feel like you are being harassed.

Public CCTV

This is also governed by the laws mentioned above, mainly the Data Protection Act. On the whole use of CCTV, if used in accordance with the Data Protection Act is lawful and therefore perfectly legal. Often public use is justified as being for public safety to monitor anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.

CCTV in the workplace

Again this is governed by the Data Protection Act. However, one difference here is that employers should really inform their employees that CCTV is in use.