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Opinion Published on Issue of Video Surveillance in Public Areas
April 15, 2002

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has published an opinion written recently by Gérard La Forest on the issue of video surveillance in public areas. La Forest was a judge in the Supreme Court of Canada until 1997. The issue was prompted by the installation of video surveillance cameras by the RCMP in Kelowna. In March, the Commissioner sent an open letter to the Solicitor General of Canada requesting that he direct the Commissioner of the RCMP to discontinue the video surveillance of public streets in Kelowna (click here for earlier item) after an earlier. The opinion concludes:”It should be apparent that I share your concerns regarding the dangers of general video surveillance. While it is not possible to predict with certainty how the courts will deal with this phenomenon, the Supreme Court has in the past shown that it is attuned to the danger of technologies posing a threat of potential massive invasions of privacy, which this form of technology clearly raises. In my opinion, the foregoing legal analysis establishes a strong case that: (1) continuously recorded general video surveillance violates the Privacy Act; (2) general video surveillance, whether or not recorded, violates section 8 of the Charter; and (3) the Solicitor General has the authority to regulate the use of video surveillance by the RCMP.”

(Click here for link to Opinion)