Cape Times: Letter – City’s CCTV cameras may invade our privacy

Cape Times · 7 Oct 2019 ·

RECENT media reports questioned whether the City of Cape Town had a CCTV master plan.

On May 13 the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance raised concerns with the mayor and others of citizens throughout the metro regarding surveillance cameras in their neighbourhoods.

While the need for security surveillance is accepted, concerns were expressed about the possible abuse of the cameras. Many of the local cameras are not connected to the City’s central control room where properly vetted officials monitor them.

We asked for documentation about the camera policies and ethics around surveillance.

The City did not respond to our requests and concerns, which would make the narrative that the City does not have a master plan quite credible. We are now publicly asking the City to let us know if policies do exist and what ethics support the responsible use of the cameras.

Many of the cameras are capable of Licence Plate Recognition (LPR), which gives monitors the ability to trace a particular vehicle’s movements over an extended period.

Collection of information on the movement of private law abiding citizens is open to abuse by politicians.

Enforcing the Protection of Personal Information Act can be an expensive legal exercise of right to privacy. There are a number of American states that are presently stopping the roll-out of facial recognition CCTV cameras as it negatively affects civil liberties.

CCTV cameras have not yet proven to be a crime deterrent as crimes continue to be committed right under cameras in our neighbourhoods. 

Perhaps the mayor, Mayco member and director could now respond and address the concerns expressed.

PHILIP BAM | Secretary of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance

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