Video surveillance – what is allowed?

When installing a video camera, the question often arises as to what is allowed in order not to conflict with the law. In this respect, Switzerland has certain rules of conduct. If you break the law, a serious matter can escalate if you do not inform yourself thoroughly with the right information. But what is not allowed and what are the consequences?

In a situation in which a person is illegally filmed, they are allowed to contact the operator of the system and request the deletion of the images, if the unique identification of these on a video recording is possible. A video camera should only record an area that is limited to it’s own property. The neighbouring property, or a public space, should not be recognizable. Furthermore, there has to be a good reason why a camera is installed. This would be, for example, the justification that it is about the safety of a particular person or an object of value is supposed to be protected. If the interference in the privacy of a filmed person is inevitable, it should always be logically related to the purpose. However, these recordings cannot be stored for longer than 24 hours and an indication should be given that a video-monitored area is entered as well as contact information in order to obtain information about the data. However, if the right is still on the victim’s side, which was filmed illegally because there was no necessary reason, then a change in the cameras perspective must be initiated, such as a change in the viewing angle or even the camera location. Furthermore, recordings should not be published without existing consent. If a crime has been filmed, the law enforcement agency should be involved.

Upon repeated request of a person to change the camera angle, he or she are entitled to request information about which data is processed about his/her person (Art.8DSG). The film clips must be made available forcibly. Another step would be to sue before the civil court to demand the deletion of the data and to change the attitude of surveillance. The person is even entitled to compensation or satisfaction. The federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner even recommends seeking a lawyer in the worst case scenario. Constant video surveillance at work is not allowed here, workers can get help from the cantonal labour inspectorate. In order to avoid all these problems, it is therefore extremely important to act in compliance with data protection.

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