This article briefly sets out the guidelines of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection, Irini Loizidou, for the use CCTV surveillance in private properties.
What are applicable rules to CCTV surveillance in buildings?
According to the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection in Cyprus (the Commissioner), personal data legislation does not apply in cases where surveillance cameras are installed on private property, such as apartment buildings and houses, as in these cases personal data/footage is monitored by individuals for domestic or personal reasons. She also stressed that the scope of surveillance should not extend to a wider perimeter-area than that of the said private property.
In other words, it is not covered by the law when the closed surveillance circuits record snapshots that include material from the neighbors of the apartments or from the passers-by provided that it does not interfere with the privacy of their neighbours.
In case of complaints, individuals should address the police directly, as the Commissioner has no authority to enter private property to examine any footage.
Where can CCTV cameras be installed in private properties?
In case CCTV is installed by the management committee of an apartment building, then the management committee is responsible for the collection, monitoring, processing and control of the personal data of the tenants.
The Commissioner emphasized that recording of video and audio is only legal when done in accordance with the relevant data protection legislation and only allowed if there is no other, less intrusive way of achieving its intended purpose.
Some limits must be applied to monitoring. That is, the cameras should be installed, for example, only at the entrances, exits of buildings, above the elevator and above the counters, provided that the cameras are directed only towards there. If the management committee deems it necessary, it is permissible to install closed type surveillance cameras in the parking of buildings.
Where are CCTV cameras not allowed?
There are some places where the installation of cameras is prohibited. Typically, some examples include the corridors, the toilets, inside the elevator, the lobbies and indoor and outdoor areas in cafes, bars and restaurants.
The Commissioner added that the use of closed-circuit cameras to monitor people's behavior, personal contacts, progress and development is prohibited.
How long should such personal data be retained?
It is also important to emphasize that the contents of the cameras should be kept only for a reasonable period of time and only within the framework of the purpose of the installation of the CCTV.
Finally, the Commissioner stressed that it is mandatory to have signs that inform the public about the existence and the reason of surveillance cameras. The sign should also include a contact number for an operator and it should be located in a visible place that is not obstructed by something that would make them illegible.
In conclusion, the Commissioner stressed that risk assessment in some cases may be necessary when the use of closed-circuit monitoring endangers the rights and freedoms of individuals.
By Ms. Aikaterini Lymperi