Everyone wants to feel secure in their home and neighborhood. Many individuals and families take measures to help protect their families from harm including: locking their doors, installing security systems, and closed circuit video systems (CCTV). The presence of CCTV’s in particular, is used to deter perpetrators from committing crimes due to a fear of being caught. Although this mechanism can be effective for some, it can also create hindrance of privacy for others, especially neighbours.
Few individuals question the presence of surveillance cameras placed on their neighbour’s property, in fact, for some it is a sense of relief, especially if one does not have their own camera. These devices can help identify individuals involved in criminal or deviant behavior and serves as a reliable source of evidence in cases.
The issue arises when individuals who are not committing a crime or deviant act are under surveillance without their consent and without knowledge. Surveillance cameras often cover a larger portion of the premises than just one property or lot. Hence, many cameras will also capture the comings and goings of neighbours. Furthermore, some of these cameras can be angled to look directly into a neighbours home, through a window for example. Imagine someone being able to peer into your home without your knowledge – that’s a scary thought for many individuals.
Although cameras can violate a neighbours right to privacy, it also upholds the right to safety for the person installing the camera. With two conflicting rights – who would win? It is likely that the person who has installed their camera would be able to keep their camera so long as they agreed to not violate their neighbours rights to privacy. The complainant would likely be encouraged to shut their blinds to mitigate surveillance as well. Sometimes a discussion with your neighbor can help alleviate any tension and diffuse a potential violation of privacy law suit.
There are some parts of Ontario, such as Hamilton, that have in place by-laws to help regulate the use of cameras. Conversely, in B.C the laws are far less regulated and even ambiguous.
A CCTV system can assist police officers in solving issues far quicker than two individuals providing their verbal accounts of a situation. In fact, in dispute situations, police officers regularly check CCTV systems to gather information and draw conclusions.
What do you think – are CCTV’s an effective tool or a nuisance and violation of privacy?
What carries more weight, privacy rights or safety?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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