Commissioner Urges City of Calgary to be Diligent About Surveillance Cameras

October 6, 2006

Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner, Frank Work, has written a letter to the Mayor of Calgary urging due diligence if the City plans to install video surveillance cameras in public places.

In his letter, the Commissioner asks the City to thoroughly research the use of surveillance cameras and to develop a full Privacy Impact Assessment before passing a bylaw to allow video surveillance. The Commissioner also asks Calgary Mayor, Dave Bronconnier, to ensure full and open public debate on the proposal and requests that he be able to appear before Calgary City Council to address the issue.

Work says the Privacy Impact Assessment must address a number of issues, including:

  • The scale and scope of the program
  • The objective of the program
  • Will cameras be used to identify litterbugs, jaywalkers and panhandlers or will it be focused on more serious incidents?
  • Will cameras be monitored or will they simply record?
  • Who will be allowed to view tapes?

Work says municipalities are allowed to pass surveillance bylaws under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but he adds that he has concerns that people embrace video surveillance as being synonymous with safety and security, when that is not the case.

The Commissioner says a full ‘PIA’ makes sense for the City because it will be legally responsible for the subsequent use, disclosure and security of personal information collected.