Surveillance camera laws exist so that you do not infringe on government regulations or the rights of others as you seek to protect your property or workplace. Read on to discover what the government says about surveillance camera laws, and if you have any further questions, contact the security professionals at Jay360 to help you make government-compliant security choices.
What Does The Government Say About Surveillance Camera Laws?
If you are thinking of installing security cameras at your home or business, you need to be aware of security camera laws both in residential areas and in the workplace. If you’re looking to install a security camera, be sure to check out Endless Security Camera System Options? – How To Find What You Really Need.
You need to be aware of security camera laws both in residential areas and in the workplace.
Residential Security Camera 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 main reason to know residential security camera laws is to avoid conflicts with neighbours.
Canadian 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).
One of the most recent examples comes 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.”
A general rule of thumb for you to keep in mind is that in a shared community environment, the privacy of all residents should be considered of utmost importance as part of your security system installation.
Residential security camera laws are evolving, but you should always consider and respect the privacy of your neighbours.
Workplace Security Camera Laws
The use of surveillance cameras in the workplace is very common in Canada these days, and everyone involved must be made aware of the laws in Canada in place to protect both sides. As outlined by The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, “Employers can balance their ‘need to know’ with their employees’ right to privacy, if they ensure that they collect, use, and disclose personal information about their employees for appropriate purposes only.”
General Workplace Privacy Guidelines You Should Follow
An employer’s need for information should be balanced with an employee’s right to privacy, according to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. For almost all personal information, the following basic rules help to establish and maintain that balance in regards to surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada:
- The employer should say what personal information it collects from employees, why it collects it, and what it does with it.
- Collection, use, or disclosure of personal information should normally be done only with an employee’s knowledge and consent.
- The employer should only collect personal information that’s necessary for its stated purpose, and collect it by fair and lawful means.
- The employer should normally use or disclose personal information only for the purposes that it collected it for, and keep it only as long as it’s needed for those purposes, unless they have the employee’s consent to do something else with it, or are legally required to use or disclose it for other purposes.
- Employees’ personal information needs to be accurate, complete, and up-to-date.
- Employees should be able to access their personal information and be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of it.
You should keep in mind the differences between security camera laws in a unionized workplace versus a non-unionized workplace.
An employer’s need for information should be balanced with an employee’s right to privacy
You Should Know Security Camera Laws Differ Between Unionized and Non-Unionized Workplaces
In the non-unionized workplace, employees enjoy a general right to privacy unless they give it up in their employment contract or otherwise waive the right expressly, according to Legal Line.
Further to that:
Surveillance may infringe upon an employee’s right to privacy if cameras are installed only to monitor the general conduct, behaviour or efficiency of a specific employee or group of employees. If, however, the camera is installed as an investigative aid for a specific time to monitor an area for suspected criminal activity, the surveillance is likely justified. The key question is often whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. (Source: Legal Line)
An employer, therefore, would likely not be allowed to target particular workers without cause, but may be able to target general areas in the non-unionized workplace with surveillance.
Ultimately, any disputes in the area of surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada would be settled in civil court.
Legal Line suggests employees in a unionized workplace should look to their collective agreement to see if it prohibits management’s use of video surveillance to observe workers.
In a unionized workplace, video surveillance has been used successfully to monitor employees’ performance and investigate workers suspected of criminal activity. When unions grieve for workers disciplined by the employer, management will often tender videotapes as evidence. The tapes are used to prove discipline was justified because the employee broke a workplace rule or regulation, engaged in behaviour that violated the collective agreement or committed a criminal act. (Source: Legal Line)
When a union is involved, the issue is resolved by a labour arbitrator and not the civil courts. The following is taken into account when rendering a decision:
- Was it reasonable, in all of the circumstances, for management to request video surveillance of the worker?
- Was the surveillance conducted in a reasonable manner?
- Were other alternatives open to management to obtain the evidence it sought?
Generally, if the first two questions are answered “yes” and the third is answered “no,” the surveillance videotape will most likely be used.
Employers should tell you what personal information will be collected.
Surveillance Cameras In Your Workplace Require Clear Policies and Expectations
In summary, when it comes to surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada, employers should – at a minimum – tell their employees what personal information will be collected, used, and disclosed.
Additionally, business owners who want video surveillance in a general area should post notices and signs in conspicuous places that are easily readable, and in both English and French. The purpose of the signage is to remove any reasonable expectation of privacy.
When it comes to hidden and even openly disclosed surveillance cameras to routinely record job activities, Canadian courts have generally not looked favourably on employers who install surveillance cameras to spy on employees without good reason.
Trust Jay360 To Help Keep You Compliant With Security Camera Laws
There are many more factors to consider when designing and installing a surveillance system. 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.
You Can Learn More From Our 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.
- Chapter 1 – Overview major manufacturers of surveillance cameras
- Chapter 2 – How to choose the best security camera model for your project
- Chapter 3 – What is the best analog surveillance cameras vs digital surveillance cameras
- Chapter 4 – Where to place surveillance cameras for the most security
- Chapter 5 – The different types of security cameras
- Chapter 6 – How much do surveillance cameras cost?