Feb 182016
 February 18, 2016  Non-U.S., Surveillance, Workplace

An individual complained that her former employer, a “federal work, undertaking or business” as defined under PIPEDA, had installed video surveillance cameras pointed toward her work area without informing her of the installation, or of the purposes for which footage would be used. She alleged that when she raised the matter with management, her concerns were ignored.


The organization advised us that the purpose of the surveillance cameras in its facilities was to deter theft and property damage and promote employee safety, but not to monitor employee performance. Alternate methods for security were not possible due to cost and the isolation of the location. The organization also informed us that the cameras were placed overtly, and not continually monitored but only viewed if an incident occurred.  The organization added that the footage was stored securely with limited management access and all recordings were automatically overwritten after a few days. In particular, a camera had been placed in the complainant’s office as it housed petty cash, confidential human resources information, and a safe; however it was disabled by an unknown person the day after it was installed, and had only been left as a security deterrent.

The organization is subject to PIPEDA and is therefore required to act in accordance with the provisions and principles under PIPEDA. In particular, our Office informed the organization that under Principle 4.3.2 of PIPEDA, “knowledge and consent” are required for the collection, use and disclosure of an individual’s personal information, and that Principle 4.1.4 states in part that organizations shall implement policies and practices to give effect to the principles of PIPEDA, including developing information to explain the organization’s policies and procedures. In order to comply with these requirements, we recommended that the organization develop a policy on video surveillance to be made available to its employees, and that it post notices at its main entrance to notify employees and other individuals of the video surveillance.

Subsequently, the organization provided to our Office a copy of its policy regarding video surveillance and a photo of the sign advising of the video surveillance. We communicated these changes to the complainant who then considered the matter to be settled and our Office therefore closed the complaint.

SOURCE: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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