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Privacy czar okays TTC cameras

But commissioner puts limits on storage and use of images

Mar 03, 2008 01:09 PM
Kerry Gillespie Queen’s Park Bureau

The TTC can go ahead with plans to dramatically increase its video camera surveillance, Ontario’s privacy commissioner says.

Toronto’s plan for 10,000 additional cameras on buses, streetcars and subway cars complies with the province’s privacy standards, Ann Cavoukian said today when she released her report.

But the TTC still has to make some changes to make sure the privacy-invasive technology is only used for legitimate crime fighting purposes and not voyeurism as has happened in some other cities, she said.

  • The TTC must delete video data after 3 days unless it’s needed for a police investigation

  • Annual audits must be conducted to ensure all the privacy rules are being followed

  • The TTC should try out a privacy-enhancing video technology, that automatically encrypts people’s images, at one location. If a crime is committed designated individuals can enter a key and view the full image.

“In making these recommendations, I have attempted to balance the legitimate need for the TTC to use video surveillance to promote public safety and security on the mass transit system, with the need to protect the privacy of TTC passengers,” Cavoukian said in her report.

She began her investigation in October after London-based organization Privacy International, argued there was no public-interest justification for the $21 million security system approved by the TTC in 2006.

Privacy advocates have great concerns over the increasing use of video surveillance but most agree that mass transit systems are an exception and cameras have a legitimate use there, Cavoukian said.

“Mass transit systems like the TTC, that are required to move large volumes of people, in confined spaces, on a daily basis, give rise to unique safety and security issues for the general public and operators of the system.”




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