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Updated Residential Video Surveillance Laws Ontario

Surveillance cameras are a great way to help protect your property or workplace, but you must be aware of the most up to date residential video surveillance laws in Ontario so that you don’t infringe on government regulations and your neighbour’s rights. As you read, know that you can trust the safety advice from the security professionals at Jay360 to help you make government-compliant security choices.

Updated Residential Video Surveillance Laws Ontario

Why You Need to Know These Laws

Knowing the residential video surveillance laws of Ontario can help you make the right security investments, reduce confrontation with others in the community, and also educate you about your privacy rights. The main reason to know the laws is to avoid conflicts with neighbours. Having the most updated information will help you as a property owner, ensuring your system is on the level as you increase your security profile. Remember that generally speaking, collecting personal video or audio of another person without expressed consent is prohibited.

The best place to start is the Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance, published by the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario in 2015. The report comes to the following conclusion:

“By its very nature, video surveillance introduces risks to the privacy of individuals whose personal information may be collected, used and disclosed. However, if the program associated with the use of video surveillance is implemented in a privacy protective manner, as described in these guidelines, the risks may be sufficiently mitigated to fulfill institutions’ obligations …”

This quote generally pertains to institutions, and things get a bit more complex when it comes to residential use.

As a homeowner, you must know the laws around video surveillance before installing.

Where Are We Today With Residential Video Surveillance Laws in Ontario?

Technology evolves very quickly, often times leaving in its dust the regulatory authorities and governance groups tackling the many ramifications of changes. Lawmakers will continue to debate and alter policies to meet the needs of residents as technology continues to evolve, but here is what we know so far about the law today.

  • Video Surveillance used for Criminal Prosecutions – recent video surveillance footage can be used in legal proceedings for witnesses or victims who were under 18 years at the time of the offence (source).
  • Evidence from victims or witnesses who have a disability – video recordings which are recent can also be used for these types of legal proceedings (source).
  • Cameras are to be pointed at owner’s property – certain bylaws like the one in Hamilton, Ontario, specify this requirement for the sake of neighbours’ privacy (source).
  • London prohibits the use of surveillance cameras – the city of London, Ontario, does not allow for the use of excessive enforcement like video cameras (source).
  • Guidelines for surveillance cameras in the private sector – The following source contains a list of guidelines for the use of surveillance cameras (source).

From the Hamilton Spectator:

“Ontario’s privacy commissioner is asking Hamilton to back away from a proposed bylaw change that would allow homeowners to point security cameras at the street.

A city committee recently endorsed a motion from Coun. Sam Merulla to study changing an existing bylaw with the goal of aiding police investigations. The current “fortifications” bylaw bans residential cameras from pointing anywhere other than the homeowner’s property.”

The argument was that home security footage can be a crucial investigative tool, and has been used to solve serious crimes in recent years. The privacy commissioner, however, recommended that city council “refrain” from changing the bylaw.

“In my view, any attempt by the city to permit or encourage the use of private video surveillance cameras, for the purpose of collecting personal information to aid in law enforcement, would undermine privacy rights under (provincial privacy laws),” he wrote.

He added, “The risk to privacy is particularly acute because video surveillance may, and often does, capture the personal information of law-abiding individuals going about their everyday activities.”

Here’s a look at other recent developments in residential video surveillance laws in Ontario.

  • Video Surveillance used for Criminal Prosecutions – recent video surveillance footage can be used in legal proceedings for witnesses or victims who were under 18 years at the time of the offence (source).
  • Evidence from victim or witnesses who have a disability – video recordings which are recent can also be used for these types of legal proceedings (source).
  • Cameras are to be pointed at owner’s property – certain bylaws like the one in Hamilton, Ontario, specify this requirement for the sake of neighbour’s privacy (source).
  • London prohibits use of surveillance cameras – the city of London, Ontario, does not allow for the use of excessive enforcement like video cameras (source).
  • Guidelines for surveillance cameras in the private sector – The following source contains a list f guidelines for the use of surveillance cameras (source).

Keep your home safe while respecting your neighbours’ privacy.

Do You Need More Information?

In a shared community environment, the privacy of all residents should be considered as part of a security system installation. The following are some quick tips on how to deploy your surveillance system in your community with the right engagement while minimizing complaints!

  • Think community safety  – starting a discussion on community safety may help other neighbours create consensus on video monitoring. A system is better than a silo, meaning if your neighbours also want to help by using their own system this can offer better coverage than one home’s video cameras could provide.
  • Ensure comfort with surrounding neighbours – having an honest conversation with your neighbours can help you discuss their comfort level with you adding a security camera to your property. You may even gain an extra pair of eyes to help you watch your property!
  • Use dummy security cameras – one way residents are staying on the right side of the law is by using dummy cameras. Though this is not recommended by the team, clients are given all the options to make an informed decision.
  • Demonstrate no harmful intent  document your installation and practices to provide city officials evidence that you weren’t out to infringe on people’s properties. This can include logs, periodic checks that camera positioning is away from other properties, and consultations with neighbours.
  • Offer footage to neighbours  some perpetrators of crime may use adjacent properties to enter a victim’s residence. Offer up this footage to try and help your neighbours so that they know you have a vested interest in the community and their well-being.
  • Address your privacy concerns – if you feel a neighbour may be infringing on your home privacy, be sure to discuss with the owner of the video camera, as this may be a quicker resolution than filing a complaint with your local city.
  • Contact your local city or bylaw advisors – ensure you are on the right side of the law, this shows care and due diligence on your part so you can’t be faulted.  Check for contact information in general inquiries and complaint filing sections.

Trust Jay360 to keep you safe and compliant

 

Jay360: Your Residential Video Surveillance Laws Ontario Experts

There are many more factors to consider when designing and installing a surveillance system in and around your home. Jay 360 continues to help clients ensure their premise security, looking at all the different angles to provide you with peace of mind and comfort. You can rely on the knowledge and experience of Jay 360 to provide you with the best home security solutions. We will recommend only the security products that meet your specific needs and budget.

Call on Jay360 to help you to plan the ideal security camera system to suit you and your needs, all at the very best value.

Read more from the Ultimate Guide to Surveillance Cameras:

This series helps you choose and set up the best camera system for your next surveillance project: offering insights and direction to those wishing to secure their home and small business premises.

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