Monday, 7 June 2010

I can see you!

Local authorities do it, tourist destinations do it, even educational establishments do it, let’s stream our webcam!

There is loads of debate about the use of CCTV Cameras monitoring our every move and of course the dreaded Gatso speeding cameras that seem to have sprouted up on every roadside.

The outputs from these cameras are restricted to a few people and for clearly defined legal use, but, there is another type of camera out there, streaming its output to the internet, that anyone can access who has the right URL.

Smile, you are on webcam!

The Data Protection Act 1998 is the key piece of legislation and the Data Protection Commissioner’s Code of Practice on CCTV gives guidance for webcam operators.

Webcams should not be installed to capture close-up images of private areas such as houses, gardens or offices without the written permission of the owner. However, there is no requirement to warm people they may be on a webcam in public and semi-public spaces, provided that individuals cannot be identified from the webcam output.

If individuals are likely to be identifiable, for example a webcam transmitting a high definition image at a live event, then reasonable steps are required to warn members of the public that a webcam is being operated. This is usually done with notices outside the venue or a note on posters or tickets.

The same rules apply to a webcam in a public space like a street or a park. If individuals can be clearly identified then the operator should put a warning notice near the webcam.

Once upon a time I had the “snowcams” of several Alpine resorts saved to my desktop. Sadly these days it’s more likely to be a camera that shows me the traffic on the A19 Tees Flyover that is linked to my favorites.

Here are some North East Webcam links.

Roker Beach

Tyne Bridge

Durham City Skyline

Sunderland University (The St.Peters Car Park!)

Any suggestions for more interesting views?

I did try to get Webcams into Hartlepool Council Chamber but the move was blocked, predictably, by the Labour Group, I doubt very much that they wanted the people of Hartlepool being able to watch the antics of their councillors!

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