UK Watchdog Looking at High-Tech Surveillance Regulation

Monitoring of high-tech surveillance systems is not keeping up with technology, the BSCC has told BBC News.

Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Prof Fraser Sampson, during the publication of his latest and probably last annual report, warned of an urgent need to acknowledge the recent “explosion” of devices such as dashcams, drones and body-worn video, which increasingly record people without their knowledge.

Planned legal changes would remove a key code and oversight, he said. The Home Office said it planned a simplified system. Oversight of surveillance cameras would be “clearer for the police and public to understand”.

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If the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill becomes law, Prof Sampson’s role will cease, shifting some of his responsibilities to other regulators.

It would also end the Surveillance Camera Code, which governs police and local authorities in England and Wales, he warned. “It simply abolishes what we already have,” Prof Sampson told BBC News.

“In which case, those rules that we currently have will be gone and then there is no clear indication of what might replace them and who might be responsible for overseeing that.”

But the Home Office told the BBC that there is a “comprehensive legislative framework for all organisations, including the police’s, use of surveillance cameras outside the Surveillance Camera Code”, as well as guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office, it said.