The Surveillance Camera Commission Was Developed to Protect Privacy. Now it May Help Ease Fears Over Drones

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surveillance camera commissionThe U.K.’s Surveillance Camera Commission was created to ensure that the public’s privacy was protected as CCTV cameras proliferated for security purposes.  The Commission encourages compliance with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, and to provide input on “the effective, appropriate, proportionate and transparent use of surveillance camera systems.”

Now, the Commissioner has awarded Crowded Space Drones the “first ever private sector certificate of compliance of surveillance camera systems and the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 for the use of UAS (drone) in surveillance.”

It’s a great step for Crowded Space Drones, a drone services company who has provided coverage for high profile event sites and more. It’s also a great step for the private sector drone industry.

Surveillance Drones: Privacy Issues

The subject of surveillance drones always brings up privacy issues.  In fact, privacy issues are at the forefront of many public concerns about drones – concerns that could limit the growth of the commercial industry.  Certification from the Surveillance Camera Commission could ease those fears by establishing standards of operation designed to protect privacy rights.

The certification is generally only granted to public sector organizations.  Granting the certificate to Crowded Space Drones, “represents a big leap forward in recognised standards for the private sector,” says a Crowded Space Drones press release.

Certification is voluntary – but getting the certificate isn’t easy.  Crowded Space Drones was audited by IQ Verify earlier this month, in a process monitored by the Surveillance Camera Commission.  The audit encompasses “all policies and procedures in relation to Data Protection, Privacy, Subject Access & Cyber Security,” says the release.  The audit not only reviewed current practices but also previous surveillance deployments.

The rigorous nature of the audit, however, may be what makes it valuable.  If a private sector drone company can reassure clients and the public that they recognize privacy issues and are operating drones in accordance with regulations and and the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (SCCP) it could go a long way towards gaining public trust of drone operations.

Laurence Clarke, Director of IQ Verify, explains:  “The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice was issued by the Secretary of State under Section 30 of the Protections of Freedoms Act to ensure that the use of cameras in public places was regulated and only used in pursuit of a specified purpose. It sets out 12 Guiding Principles which strike a balance between protecting the public and upholding civil liberties.

It is a little-known fact that the remit of this Code specifically includes surveillance camera systems used in UAS (Drones) – whether this is private sector or linked to a relevant authority.

Of the great many private sector UAS organisations in the UK, it is exciting to see Crowded Space Drones set the quality benchmark for the industry having now achieved the very first Surveillance Camera Code of Practice Certification. We sincerely hope this marks the start of a positive change towards better standards throughout the industry.”

“When conducting any form of surveillance for public authorities, transparency of compliance is crucial to both the authority and the public. We are exceptionally proud to the be the only private sector organisation to obtain this certification as it not only gives our clients confidence that we comply with all legislation in this area, but enables public trust in our work,” says Andrew McQuillan, Director of Crowded Space Drones.

For more information about the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, please click here.



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