Canadian Province Gives Video Surveilance Guide for Schools

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada

The privacy commissioner for the Canadian province of Ontario has released guidelines for the use of video surveillance in schools.

Ann Cavoukian says school boards need strict controls on the use of video surveillance in schools that include laying out clearly what areas are being videotaped. “Video surveillance can be an effective security tool, but privacy is an essential right that must also be addressed,” Cavoukian told the Toronto Star. “Each school should have a designated individual who is responsible for the video-surveillance program in that school.”

During the provincial election, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty promised to help pay if elementary schools wanted to install video cameras as a way of improving student safety.

Among the guidelines Cavoukian has provided to Ontario schools include:

  • Video cameras should be placed only in identified areas of schools where surveillance is necessary to deter or detect problems.

  • Equipment should never monitor areas where students and staff have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in change rooms and washrooms.

  • Students and staff should be notified about the surveillance program through clearly worded signs.

  • Schools should not use hidden cameras.

  • Strict controls are needed to ensure the security and the integrity of the recorded images.

  • Tapes that have not been used as part of an investigation should be erased after not more than 30 days.

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