United Kingdom

U.K. Belatedly Adopts Guidelines for Surveillance Cameras

Considering it's the most scrutinized country on the planet


After having used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR, also known as ALPR in the US) cameras to track motorists for more than a decade, the UK Home Office decided earlier this month to issue a code of practice to govern its use. The mostly voluntary guidance is designed to give the public more power to challenge improper police use of the technology. Enforcing the new rules falls upon Andrew Rennison, who was appointed as surveillance camera commissioner last year, though few of the provisions are legally binding.

"In addition to making clear the legal obligations in relation to the necessity and proportionality of surveillance camera systems, the code promotes greater transparency on the part of system operators and a climate of surveillance by consent," Home Office officials explained. "It also promotes the more effective use of surveillance cameras where they are necessary."

Britain is already one of the most surveilled nation's on the planet, with a vast array of closed circuit TV (CCTV) cameras, speed cameras and license plate readers. The code sets out twelve principles designed to make the government spying operations more transparent.