Privacy pledge on Shoreditch CCTV scheme

Information Commissioner pays a visit

The Information Commissioner cast an eye over the Shoreditch home surveillance project this week as the man behind the controversial scheme assured residents their civil liberties will be protected.

Daniel Hodges, CEO of project architects Digital Bridge, had a visit this week from the Information Commissioner (IC), who wanted to make sure the project in East London would not offend any privacy laws.

Admitting homeview CCTV was "on the borders of what's acceptable", Hodges said he had taken legal advice and safeguards will be in place to avoid offending privacy laws.

The scheme will be piloted in March and could eventually give 40,000 homes access to a network of CCTV cameras across Hackney, East London, through set-top boxes connected to their televisions and home computers.

"The main safeguard in relation to this is that residents do not have control of the cameras and don't have the capacity to zoom in and follow people," Hodges said.

"It won't be possible to see people's faces or identify them," he said, because cameras would be placed up high and images would be rotated from camera to camera every 30 seconds.

Another safeguard would prevent residents from recording the images transmitted from CCTV cameras. The signals will be encrypted using the same technology used to prevent Sky movies from being copied, said Hodges.

The IC will provide a written assessment of the Shoreditch* scheme following a period of consultation. Its opinion on whether the scheme complies with privacy laws will be sent to Hodges by letter before the pilot begins.

* The last reference in The Register to the IC's interest in Shoreditch as an "investigation" may have been misleading. The IC's investigation is not formal, though its opinion would likely form the basis of any formal investigation were the scheme to offend privacy laws when it started.®

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