Privacy case note #6, 2021: Council asks if it can install a webcam at local skate park

December 13, 2021 - 2:07pm

OIC was contacted by a local council asking about the privacy considerations of installing a webcam at a local skate park. Council advised that the webcam would not be recording footage; rather it would stream live video footage to the agency’s website where it would be accessible to the community.  Council specifically asked whether IPP 2 signage was required.

Privacy principles

Council’s enquiry raised possible issues under Information Privacy Principle (IPP) 2 – Collection of personal information (requested by individual) and Section 33 – Transfer of personal information outside Australia.

Section 12 of the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) defines personal information as information …‘whether recorded in a material form or not…’. However, the IPPs do not apply to personal information generally, they only apply to personal information contained in a document. For example, the  IPPs do not apply to personal information communicated verbally if that information is never recorded in a document.

As the webcam would only be streaming live footage and not recording footage, OIC advised council that the obligations in the IPPs did not apply. Nonetheless, while council may not be obliged under IPP 2 to provide a collection notice, OIC’s view was that it would be good practice to provide the public  with notification that webcams would be streaming live video to a public website, for the following reasons:

  • It increased transparency of council’s actions. For example, a parent or guardian who saw a camera operating in an area that is frequented by children could easily become concerned if they could not identify who was operating the camera, or obtain information about the purpose for which the camera was being used.
  • Signage would inform the community of what information council held, or in this case, did not hold.
  • Using a low resolution webcam did not necessarily ‘de-identify’ the individuals in the livestream, as it may still be possible to identify a person from the way they walk, their particular clothing or by another distinctive feature such as their bike or skateboard.
  • The rule that governs the transfer of personal information outside Australia applies to all personal information regardless of whether or not it is contained in a document. Should council place a live video stream of identifiable individuals on its website, there was the potential for those images to    be transferred overseas. A prominent notice placed in the skate park could advise that the individuals’ personal information may be transferred overseas and, that by continuing to use the skate park, the individual agrees to this transfer.