Workplace video surveillance laws are intended to protect employers and employees.  Get safe advice from the security professionals at Jay360 to help you make compliant choices without negatively impacting employee morale. In this article, we look at how to best protect business  owners from breaking the law when using surveillance, along with must-ask questions before installing a camera. Employees will also find information below on their rights and what is considered excessive monitoring that can be reported for privacy violations.

Organizations are to note that the information offered here is for informational purposes and legal experts should be consulted for advice. This article is provided to help inform business owners of their rights and the rights of their employees and how to balance privacy and security for all.

Here is a video to get an overview of the Canadian security surveillance landscape and where it may be heading:

Surveillance Cameras Lawsuits and Law Enforcement Inquiries

There have already been cases of civil rights groups and everyday people pressing for legal action against the misuse and application of surveillance technologies:

  • An AirBnb user is pressing charges against the company for not disclosing the active security cameras and is facing charges for wiretapping and invasion of privacy (Source: Verge)
  • Correctional Services Canada has set off a criminal investigation by the Ontario Provincial police (Source: Globe and Mail)
  • BC Civil Liberties Association is charging the Canadian Federal government with overstepping privacy boundaries and not protecting citizens from illegal search and seizure (Source: iPolitics)

Jay360 believes this is only the beginning as neighbours and coworkers become more aware of their privacy rights and the advances of digital technology.

Why is it Important to Know the Laws On Surveillance

Knowing the laws on surveillance can help you make the right security investments, reduce the risk of harming your public image, and also educate business on their employees’ privacy rights. Because of the competitive business landscape, knowing what is valid surveillance can also help you manage your business security. The main reason to know the laws is to avoid conflicts with employees and vendors which could detract from doing business. Litigation can be costly and though some jurisdictions make it less apparent what is proper and improper use, having the most thorough background information will surely help a property owner looking to increase their security profile.  Collecting personal video or audio of another person without expressed consent is a violation of PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act) and can lead to regulatory inquiries and lawsuits with stakeholders.

What does the Government say about Surveillance Camera Laws

The government is typically the referee when it comes to balancing information security for businesses while also defending the privacy right of citizens. Canadian lawmakers will continue to debate and alter policies to meet the needs of residents, but here is what we know so far about the law today along with due diligence tests to help position your company if an inquiry does arise:

  • Can I use a camera to monitor employee performance/conduct? – No. This is a violation of  employee privacy, a camera can only be installed to help identify the source of criminal activity (source). This also rules out the temptation to monitor employees outside of work which relates to gathering and distributing such footage or information.
    Due diligence test: If uncertain, explore the concept with your team and an unbiased third-party to increase your due diligence profile.
  • What is the proper use of security surveillance?  The privacy commissions office shares that monitoring of critical assets or high-crime areas is permissible and part of reasonable use (source).
    Due diligence test: Ensure your company can demonstrate other options were evaluated and can articulate why surveillance was chosen instead of other less invasive measures.
  • What is the permitted use of surveillance video/audio information? – Recorded media must not be used to track the movement of employees, but rather for security purposes rather than monitoring individual employees (source).
    Due diligence test: If company items go missing, get the consent of employees before reviewing footage on specific employees (source).
  • How do I Minimize the stakeholders affected? – If a store front is using surveillance it is recommended that pedestrians passing by the store should not be recorded (source).
    Due diligence test: Consider the objective of the monitoring solution and whether the lowest number of individuals are being monitored to fulfill that purpose.

surveillance cameras hidden versus visible

Must-Ask Questions  Before Installing Surveillance

Thinking through the implications of adding surveillance technology to your workplace will help in the long-run for planning and value. Here is a listing of questions you should ask and prepare to answer prior to using surveillance or imaging applications.

  • What if the footage has been acquired of criminal activity in a private area?
    – Privacy can actually sometimes trump this kind of evidence, and it can be dismissed from court given that an employee felt privacy was assured (source).
  • Does your company work with a union? – Understand the collective agreement in place and whether there are provisions for security monitoring.
  • Considering surveillance of outdoor property?
    – Organizations are required to post signs when monitoring public or adjacent spaces (source).
  • Have you created a policy for managing video surveillance?
    – Determine what are the procedures when you create, modify, archive, and dispose of footage. Communicate this policy to employees so they are aware (source).
  • Are you ready to answer questions from the public?
    – So you’ve decided to monitor, but there may be inquiries from your customers who visit your office or privacy guardians who may want to inquire about your policy and plans. Turn inquiry into opportunity by being prepared and illustrating your extensive analysis.

Learn more here from a local Toronto information security expert about privacy for small businesses.

workplace surveillance lawsA Unique Problem for Photography Business Companies who Post Online

For companies taking landscaping or photography of high traffic areas, there is a privacy concern arising when people’s images are placed online without prior written consent. Photographers should be aware that this is a privacy violation and the camera wielder is unknowingly exposing themselves to risks of litigation. One approach offered by the privacy commissioner is to use face blurring or anonymizing technology when rendering photos, though this may impact the quality of the image. Another approach would be to ensure pedestrians have their backs turned, reducing their exposure.

Far Reaching Consequences to a Breach of Surveillance Law

Aside from the potential litigation should employees file lawsuits against a company, the Privacy Commissioner may inspect organizations and their compliance in upholding the privacy of their employees and service providers. Within PIPEDA it is stated that, under the discretion of the Commissioner, the findings of such inspections may be published as well as included in their annual report if it concerns the interest of the general public. Companies don’t need to go at it alone when considering security and privacy, and here is how Jay360 is available to assist.

Jay360: The Fastest & Easiest Way to Install Compliant Security Systems

jay-360Jay 360 looks at helping you position your security system not only for an optimized security profile but also for regulatory and privacy compliance. Ensure you have the right tools for the job when safeguarding your premise with the right security advisor for peace of mind and privacy. The team helps manage your business interests of protecting valuable assets and confidential information without compromising employee privacy.  You can rely on the knowledge and experience of Jay 360 to provide you with the best home security solutions. Digital or analog, we have you covered. 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.

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