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Surveillance Camera Day

Surveillance Camera Day is running on Thursday, June 20, falling on the third and final day of IFSEC 2019 exhibition in London. The Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter describes it as a world first; a national event to encourage a conversation about the use of surveillance cameras in society. The day is being organised by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Office, with the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy (CRISP).

Organisers are asking surveillance camera control centres to have a day of ‘doors open’ so that the public can see how they operate. At IFSEC, as featured in the last couple of issues of Professional Security magazine, Tony Porter is launching ‘secure by default’ minimum requirements for manufacturers. Where manufacturers, voluntarily, meet the new requirements it will mean that the default settings of a product are the most secure settings possible. This means they are much less likely to be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Tony Porter, a former senior police officer, stresses – for example when giving a talk to the Security TWENTY 19 event at Birmingham in February – how camera technology is evolving, especially around automatic face recognition and artificial intelligence (AI); it brings benefits and risks to society. Hence the day, for those who use cameras, those who install them, those who operate them, those who manufacture them and the people who are captured by their gaze, whether practitioner or protest group against excessive surveillance.

Organisers are asking surveillance camera system users to detail to the public new technological developments, such as face recognition and AI; novel features or practices, such as the use of body-worn cameras as by police or security patrollers or lone workers, or drones; and how public space surveillance cameras protect communities and individuals while respecting their right to privacy.

Tony Porter, Surveillance Camera Commissioner, said: “The UK is sometimes referred to as ‘the most surveilled country on the planet’. I want to start a conversation about how surveillance cameras are used, why they’re used and who is using them. Cameras are used to keep people safe but new and emerging technology can lead to greater infringements to our civil liberties. Civil engagement is a key strand of the national surveillance camera strategy and I want people who use cameras to shine a light on what they do – how they’re using cameras to protect communities not spy on them.”

Professor William Webster, Director of CRISP at Stirling University, is one of the ‘strand’ leads for Tony Porter’s strategy. He said: “Surveillance cameras are a defining feature of modern society. A public debate about their use is essential if we are to know what is acceptable to society and what is not. Surveillance cameras are now ubiquitous and with developments like face-recognition and AI they are becoming more sophisticated and intrusive. Such systems are provided in the public interest and it is essential that those charged with the governance and regulation of such systems are confident that they have a good understanding of what practices and systems are broadly acceptable. The National Surveillance Camera Day is a chance for anyone to have their say about the future of surveillance cameras – the regulators and service providers are listening!”

Photo by Mark Rowe; Alton Towers.


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