VPSN asks Province to rethink the deployment of CCTV in public schools
Earlier today, the Vancouver Public Space Network sent a letter to Hon. Minister Margeret MacDiarmid, Minister of Education, outlining our concerns about the proposed changes to the School Act. The changes, contained within Bill 20, would facilitate the installation and deployment of CCTV (and related surveillance technology) within classrooms.
The VPSN feels that schools should be free of video surveillance, using this technology only as a tool of last resort and when its use is clearly justified. Research shows that surveillance cameras are ineffective both at decreasing unwanted behaviour and at catching criminals after the event. Furthermore, the technology is also expensive and present a costly and ineffective means of achieving the goals of safer schools.
In our letter, we noted that BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has been recommending for a decade that school boards have policies governing the use of cameras, and the viewing and secure storage of the data they collect (see Keeping School Safe for Students, October 27, 2000). While some school boards have such policies, they are not required, and we find this very disconcerting. Even worse than allowing surveillance cameras to be used is allowing them without setting any rules to say under what circumstances they may be deployed, how they should be operated, how students’ privacy rights will be safeguarded, who has access to the images, and in which places they are inappropriate. The province should either impose stringent standard rules to avoid the possibility of over-use and abuse of surveillance cameras, or require boards to adopt rules that meet or exceed a tough provincial standard.
:: Read the VPSN letter to Hon. Minister Margaret MacDiarmid concerning Bill 20 and the proposed changes to the School Act
:: Read the VPSN Media Release concerning Bill 20 and the proposed changes to the School Act