Say ‘cheese’

Re­mark­able num­ber of trysts cap­tured on video­tape

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

Smile, you’re on can­did cam­era — that used to be the slo­gan of the tele­vi­sion show “Can­did Cam­era,” where peo­ple would be se­cretly video­taped re­act­ing to sit­u­a­tions, re­ac­tions that were later broad­cast.

But where and when — and how — you might be on video is a far broader is­sue than you think. In fact, with the mil­lions of hours of sur­veil­lance footage shot ev­ery week, chances are that a good part of your public life is cap­tured on cam­era — even parts of your public life that you might have thought were pri­vate.

Con­sider this alarm­ing thought: have you (or any­one you know) ever stopped for a quick lit­tle amorous week­end or late-night in­ter­lude in a sprawl­ing park­ing in CBRM? The kind of pri­vate congress you might be com­fort­able with, con­sid­er­ing the sight lines are clear and you’re in an ocean of empty park­ing spa­ces? What’s the harm?

Then think about this: sur­veil­lance cam­eras can scan lots day and night and have cap­tured a re­mark­able num­ber of trysts. Noth­ing garn­ers the at­ten­tion of se­cu­rity per­son­nel than a lone car parked in the lot, a car that no one seems to be get­ting out of. And yes, cam­eras zoom.

Years ago in St. John’s, there was, at least for a short pe­riod of time, a sort of “great­est hits” col­lec­tion of park­ing lot per­for­mances.

(At least one set of the videos col­lected that way was later de­stroyed when se­nior staff dis­cov­ered their ex­is­tence.)

Last week, New­found­land’s pri­vacy com­mis­sioner, Ed Ring, is­sued guide­lines for sur­veil­lance by public bod­ies in the province.

In a news re­lease an­nounc­ing the guide­lines, Ring said that “the con­tin­ued pro­lif­er­a­tion of closed cir­cuit tele­vi­sion cam­eras (CCTV) and the rapidly ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy that CCTV em­ploys is a con­cern for many pri­vacy ad­vo­cates and other pri­vacy com­mis­sion­ers. The in­creas­ing pres­ence of these cam­eras by public bod­ies has raised pri­vacy con­cerns about how the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by these CCTV sys­tems is col­lected, used and dis­closed …”

Be­cause it’s not only em­bar­rass­ing in­ci­dents that get cap­tured — con­sider this rec­om­men­da­tion in the guide­lines: “For ex­am­ple, CCTV in­stalled to pre­vent on­go­ing van­dal­ism af­ter nor­mal work­ing hours should not be used to deal with hu­man re­source mat­ters dur­ing the work day.”

Imag­ine be­ing dis­ci­plined for your work ethic based on a cam­era placed for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent rea­son.

Ring is also rec­om­mend­ing that sur­veil­lance records be de­stroyed af­ter a month, and that they be sub­ject to a log­ging sys­tem that would al­low over­sight into who ac­cessed tapes, and when.

Since then, Ring has mused on CBC News that the lack of com­plaints about video sur­veil­lance sug­gests peo­ple are com­pla­cent about what sorts of things are on tape.

Truth is, they prob­a­bly aren’t even aware that some of their most epic per­for­mances might be viewed by an au­di­ence they had not in­tended.

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