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Privacy guardian to examine Shoreditch CCTV scheme

Home-view CCTV may offend privacy safeguards

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The Information Commissioner is preparing to investigate Shoreditch council over its Big Brother plans to allow citizens to spy on one another using its network of CCTV cameras.

The council, who announced a pilot for the scheme in December, plan to allow 20,000 Shoreditch residents to spy on each other using a set of 500 CCTV cameras in a deprived neighbourhood, relayed through set-top boxes. They can compare suspicious characters against a most-wanted list of Asbo "offenders" and report them to the police.

Jonathan Banford, Assistant Information Commissioner, said the Shoreditch scheme would have to be investigated to see if it complied with the CCTV Code of Practice.

""We're going to get in touch to find out what's going on. It does raise concerns and issues for data protection," he said.

Banford raised a series of issues that would have to be addressed. If the Shoreditch scheme was merely giving people a CCTV view of their own doorsteps, "like an entry control system," there would be little cause for excitement.

But he said: "We'd be concerned if there was widespread broadcast of imaging that makes people easily identifiable while going about their daily business."

He also hoped to determine if restrictions where being imposed on the things residents could do with the images and to ensure residents would not "record them for their own amusement".

Shoreditch Trust, which is running the scheme as part of its New Deal for Communities regeneration project, was not available for comment.®

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