USING covert CCTV to identify dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets foul could run afoul of GDPR, Naas Municipal District Councillors were told recently.
Kildare Co Council said that while it is prepared to work with a local residents association to address an issue of dog fouling, it doesn’t propose the use of covert CCTV.
That issue cropped up during the most recent meeting of the municipal councillors with Cllr Bill Clear calling on the council to install covert CCTV in Sarto Park in Naas due to what he described as ‘extensive’ dog fouling in that area.
But a report issued in response to his motion explained that the processing of data through CCTV poses a high risk to individuals’ rights and freedoms and that the council must have a legal basis for processing personal data through the use of CCTV.
“The use of CCTV in Sarto Park for the purpose outlined in the notice of motion is not considered a necessary and proportionate measures (required by Article 35 of the GDPR) for the monitoring of dog fouling in the area nor is it considered a prudent use of public monies in this instance,” the report explained.
“Cameras placed so as to record external areas would need to be positioned in such a way as to prevent or minimise recording of passers-by or of another person’s private property. Recognisable images captured by CCTV systems are ‘personal data’ and are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Acts. Use of CCTV systems to monitor neighbours or passers-by can be difficult to justify and could involve a breach of the Data Protection legislation.”
Members were also informed that Article 5 of the GDPR requires a data controller – like Kildare Co Council – to be transparent when processing someone’s data, and so using recording mechanisms to obtain data without their knowledge goes against that principle.
“Covert surveillance must be focused and of short duration and only specific (and relevant) individuals/locations should be recorded and must be backed up by relevant legislation,” the report added. “In addition to the cost and legal issues around GDPR and potential breaches of privacy, the operation of CCTV in these circumstances gives rise to several practical and operational difficulties. These include, for example, limitations with regard to the site area to be covered, the resources required to review surveillance footage, and the subsequent identification/recognition of any people captured in the images.”
Cllr Clear remarked that he understood the report, adding that residents had asked him to go up and see the dog fouling. “I couldn’t get over how bad it was,” he said.
He also noted that the warden had had a word and that he thought the issue was some way sorted.