Zambia Law Development Commission

LEGISLATION AS A TOOL FOR THE SAFE USE OF PUBLIC SECURITY INFORMATION SYSTEM IN ZAMBIA

 

THE RISE OF THE USE OF CLOSED-CIRCUIT TELEVISION (CCTV)

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By In’utu Akolwa

INFORMATION systems collectively entail computers, communication facilities, computer and communication networks and data and information that may be stored, processed, retrieved or transmitted by them, including programs, specifications and procedures for their operation, use and maintenance.[1]

Zambia is currently experiencing massive growth in the use of information systems for all manner of applications in all parts of life. Notable, is an increase in the installation of closed- circuit television cameras not only on public premises but on private premises. Such growth in the use of information systems makes the provision of proper security for all exposed to such systems essential.[2]

This Article focuses on the rise of the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) as an information system in Zambia. Considered in the Article are; the advantages and disadvantages of the use of CCTV, and the available safeguards as far as the regulation of use of CCTV is concerned. In conclusion recommendations for the effective and safe use of CCTV in Zambia are made. Information systems inclusive of CCTV are increasingly playing a significant role, in national and international economies, trade, and in social, cultural and political life. This growth calls for special efforts to foster confidence in information systems.[3]

In the absence of appropriate safeguards, data and information systems acquire a distinct  sensitivity and vulnerability, as compared with paper documents, due to risks arising from available means of unauthorised access, use, misappropriation, alteration, and destruction.[4] 

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Therefore, there is need to raise awareness of risks to information systems and of the safeguards available to meet those risks.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) an intergovernmental  economic organisation whose key objective is to  stimulate economic progress and world trade, found  that at an international and national level present measures, practices, procedures and institutions  may not adequately meet the challenges posed  by information systems and subsequently there is need for clarity, predictability, certainty, and uniformity of rights and obligations, of enforcement  of rights, and of recourse and redress for violation of rights relating to information systems and the  security of information systems.[5] Though Zambia is  not a member of these organisations, the findings above stand true and equally affect Zambia.

In light of the above there is a requirement for the use of information systems to be accompanied by a framework which ensures clarity and certainty in the use of information systems and which also provides for uniformity of rights and obligations  and redress where arising rights and duties are violated. This would require the development of a suitable legislative framework to regulate information systems, in this particular case to  specifically regulate the use of CCTV.

CCTV is a TV system in which signals are not  publicly distributed but are monitored, primarily for surveillance and security purposes. CCTV relies on strategic placement of cameras , and observation of the camera’s input on monitors remotely. Since the cameras communicate with monitors and/or video recorders across private coaxial cable runs or wireless communication links, they gain the designation “closed-circuit” to indicate that access to their content is limited by design only to those able to see it.[6] 

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Rapid changes in technology have made CCTV affordable and individuals and business houses are increasingly taking up the said technology in Zambia.[7] Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya in a statement issued last year[8], stated that Cabinet approved in principal the introduction of a bill for the regulation of the use of CCTV by private and public entities because there is no legal framework to regulate the use of CCTV in private and public premises in the country despite the technology becoming affordable and being widely used. The move, she added, was meant to enhance security in the country.

The use of CCTV has gained high importance in numerous sectors due to its efficiency and working benefits. Some of the advantages of the use of CCTV are highlighted below.

Criminal activities can be detected and prevented by the real time alarms generated by CCTV. Offenders can be identified from the footage and be brought to book in the same vein, the footage is also an important source of evidence to solve cases. The presence of such cameras further serves as a deterrent to would be offenders as areas under surveillance cameras become no go zones.

CCTV is not only important for fighting criminal activity but also improves public safety situations. These can be analysed on time and necessary actions can be taken by help of surveillance. Traffic can be controlled as road users will be aware that they are under surveillance and will have to comply with traffic rules and regulations at all times.

Where road users decide to disregard regulations and rules, footage can be used to establish their guilt and to guide on an appropriate punishment .

The use of CCTV further creates a  sense of security in the public as they  are assured they are being watched over and can be protected from  unforeseeable harm.

 

However, the use of CCTV also comes with some disadvantages and not all experiences from its use have been positive. Some disadvantages identified include:

  • Concerns on breach of privacy in situations where footage has been used by some unscrupulous people;
  • Setting up the infrastructure is costly;
  • CCTV systems maybe vulnerable to hacking
  • Having actual footage does not stop the commission of crime in some instances.

Despite the weaknesses identified above,the use of CCTV continues, some jurisdictions going a step further by enacting legislation to regulate the use of CCTV. The enactment of specific legislation is an indicator that the advantages of the use of CCTV outweigh the disadvantages or weaknesses in the use of CCTV.

The applicable legislation in the UK is the Data Protection Act, 2018. The Data Protection Act : makes provision for the regulation of the processing of information relating to individuals; makes provision in connection with the Information Commissioner’s functions under certain regulations relating to information; makes provision for a direct marketing code of practice; and for connected purposes.

The legal requirements arising in general from the Act in regard to the use of CCTV are that:[9]

signs must be enforced when CCTV is being used(the public must be notified of the presence and use of cameras); • sound/conversation is not allowed to be recorded, exceptions include taxi cabs and police custody suites; and • CCTV operators are forbidden from sharing footage of identifiable people with the media or on the internet for entertainment purposes-the only footage that is allowed to be released is if it is to identify someone for purposes requested by the police.

Where a CCTV system is set up to only capture images within the boundary of private domestic property including such as gardens, then the Data Protection will not apply to such user. However if your camera captures passers-by then you must abide by the Data Protection Act .Once CCTV is used in the public, the user must ensure such use complies with the Data Protection Act to protect the privacy of individuals and to ensure that the CCTV is being used responsibly. Once CCTV footage has been requested by the police, the user or operator must abide by the Data Protection Act to ensure that this footage is safe and secure and not handed to anyone else The Act among other things enables individuals to obtain information involving them including CCTV footage.

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In Conclusion, bearing in mind the rising use of CCTV in Zambia and noting the absence of appropriate safeguards which exposes information systems to a distinct sensitivity and vulnerability, there is an urgent need for a framework which ensures clarity and certainty in the use of information systems and which also provides for uniformity of rights and obligations and redress where arising rights and duties are violated. This would require the development of a suitable legislative framework to regulate information systems, in this particular case to specifically regulate the use of CCTV.

It is therefore recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) which is mandated among others to maintain internal security and facilitate the provision of policy and legal frameworks to respond to inter alia emerging internal security challenges, develop a legislative and administrative framework to regulate the use of CCTV in the country. This will help establish a robust and effective nationwide Public Security Information System.

FOOT NOTES

[1] Recommendation of the Council of the OECD concerning guidelines for the security of information systems 26 No[1]vember 1992

[2] https://www.oecd.org/internet/ieconomy/oecdguidelinesforth[2]esecurityofinformationsystems1992.htm accessed 3/18/2020

[3] Recommendation of the Council of the OECD concerning guidelines for the security of information systems

[4] bid

[5] Ibid

[6] Tectargent Network https://whatis.techtarget.com/defini[6]tion/CCTV-closed-circuit-television accessed 3/27/2020

[7] Zambia approves bill to regulate CCTV use: Chief Govern[7]ment Spokesperson Dora Siliya http://www.xinhuanet.com/ english/2019-06/18/c_138153556.htm accessed 3/24/2020

[8] Zambia approves bill to regulate CCTV use: Chief Govern[8]ment Spokesperson Dora Siliya http://www.xinhuanet.com/ english/2019-06/18/c_138153556.htm accessed 3/24/2020

[9] Caught on Camera https://www.caughtoncamera.net/ news/cctv-legal-requirements-cctv-laws-explained/#ques[9]tion_1 accessed 3/26/2020

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