It is becoming increasingly important for agencies using surveillance technology to consider the privacy implications of that technology, including how the information will be securely stored and how access to that information will be provided to individuals who have legitimate requests.
In December 2016, the Privacy Commissioner released a finding that the Department of Corrections had interfered with the privacy of a complainant who was seriously assaulted in 2013 at Mt Eden Corrections Facility, then under the management of SERCO. The Department refused to provide to the complainant a copy of footage relating to the assault, deleted footage from a second camera, and deleted/lost footage that showed the complainant being removed on an ambulance stretcher. The Department had offered the complainant an opportunity to view the footage, but the complainant sought a copy of the footage. The Department's reasons for declining the complainant's request included that providing such footage would severely compromise the security of the prison and risks to staff and prisoner safety, and that it would interfere with the privacy of third parties (i.e staff and other prisoners) in the footage. The Commissioner found that providing the CCTV footage would not prejudice the security of the prison facility - in fact, photographs from the same angle as the CCTV camera concerned are publicly available on the facility's website. The Commissioner was also not satisfied that the Department had demonstrated that it would be too onerous or costly to edit the footage so as to protect third parties' privacy and satisfy the complainant's request.
As more information is collected via CCTV cameras, the relevant agency will be expected to consider how the information collected will be made available while also protecting third parties' privacy and affairs. The matter has since been referred to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, and the footage provided by the New Zealand Police to the complainant. The Department has also modified its position to take a case by case approach to any future requests for CCTV footage.