New Zealand Law Society - Op shop failed to notify CCTV cameras recorded audio

Op shop failed to notify CCTV cameras recorded audio

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has resolved an issue of CCTV cameras in an op shop recording audio with the knowledge of customers or other staff.

A volunteer complained to the office after making the discovery.

The office says that whilst there was signage in the store advising that CCTV was in operation, it did not warn that there was audio recording. The volunteer felt uncomfortable that their conversations in the shop were being recorded and also suspected that there might be audio recording in the break room. They spoke with the manager and contacted head office with their concerns but felt unhappy with the response This led the volunteer to resign.

The complaint raised issues under principle 1, 3 and 4 of the Privacy Act. Under principle 1, an agency must not collect personal information unless it is for a lawful purpose connected with a function or activity of the agency, and collection is necessary for that purpose.

Under principle 3, when an agency collects personal information, it should take reasonable steps to ensure the individual concerned is aware of the fact of what is being collected.

Under principle 4 of the Privacy Act, an agency must not collect information in an unlawful or unfair way, or in a way which intrudes to an unreasonable extent upon the personal affairs of the individual involved.

Store’s response and resolution

The store’s management told the Office of the Privacy Commissioner that audio recording assisted with customer complaints as it provided additional information and context to the video stream. This helped them with “retrospective analysis of any incident”.

The charity shop advised the office that they had permanently disabled the audio capability in four of their six in-store cameras with the exception of those at point of sale and one other area. They confirmed that no recording, audio or otherwise, was taking place in the break room.

The office said the store told them they had strengthened guidance for public and staff for any audio captured from the system and had committed to upgrading signage which would state “this camera records audio”.

It then advised the complainant of their right to take the complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal should they wish to do.

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