CCTV – Your Actual Rights

Here we’ll talk about what your rights are when it comes to being recorded and more importantly, when you want to record. This is ROI specific. UK (and therefore NI have different rules). Again about 80% of this information is common.

Public or Private:

The first point is to note if you are in the public or private. Before we make the points, lets first define clearly what we are talking about.

  • Private – This is in 2 parts.
    • Your personal private property. (PPP).
    • When you are on the private property of another. – Also in 2 parts.
      • The private property (home or residence) of an individual. (PRI)
      • The private property (commercial building) of a business. (PCB)
  • Public – Everywhere that is NOT private. (PUB)
    • Parks, public roads and streets, beeches, etc.
    • Government owned buildings.
      • Council offices.
      • Police stations.
      • Public Libraries.
      • Hospitals.
      • Anywhere that is government owned, as this is public (tax payer, you) funded.
      • Anytime you interact with a public servant (Garda, Council Workers, etc.) regardless where they are. They are always “in the public” if acting in the course of their duties.
Public Property (PUB):

In the public, you can both be recorded, and you can record freely.

This means that if some stranger takes out their phone and starts recording you. You actually cannot refuse or request them to delete the recording. Don’t even try. You’ll just make an idiot of yourself and likely get arrested if you make a big enough idiot of yourself. Wont that look good on camera? Always remember:

There is NO reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.

If you were to try (and succeeded) to take the phone from someone recording you. Even being were kind enough to warn them beforehand. If only just to delete the recording and hand it back, that’s:

  • Assault – Threatening someone with the ability to carry it out.
  • Battery – Actually carrying out your threat which involves touching the person or their property. Likely in an aggressive way as I doubt anyone would hand their phone to a stranger willingly. So you would have to use some kind of force.
  • Theft – As you have taken their property without their consent, however temporarly.
  • Criminal damage – As you have damaged their data. Just because they are recording you, does not make it your data.

No matter how well versed in freeman concepts you are. You will not get away with these actions as they are causing harm and loss to another.

Remember the above goes both ways. You can record freely too. While you do not need to hide the faces of members of the public. For example, by recording their lower bodies only. It’s probably a good practice in order to help avoid confrontation. Only if they try to get confrontational should you then record their faces. But this is not law, just a matter of courtesy and conflict avoidance.

Remember, other members of the public will not be as well versed as you after reading this article. As a result of their ignorance, it can get confrontational. Try to educate them in a non confrontational way where possible.

Where there are reasonable expectations of privacy in public places. It is illegal to record, no matter the excuse of the management. Examples of this are public bathrooms, or an individuals office where private matters may be discussed. Wetherspoons is clearly breaking the law here with the CCTV’s installed in the bathrooms. Their excuse, drug abuse and false allegations, and protection of the public.

Public or Private Property with CCTV:

Once you are being recorded ANYWHERE. You are also entitled to record. By placing CCTV or using any other recording device. They have now automatically consented to being recorded because they are recording themselves and their interactions while also recording you. They cannot stop you from recording them, if they are recording you.

Your recording also does not have to be open and visible. You can record them in a concealed manner should you wish as again, they have already consented to being recorded.

So for example, a security officer in a shop with CCTV installed cannot refuse to let you record them. They have already consented to being recorded by the CCTV in the shop. Especially considering they knew it was there when they both took the job and / or when they started the shift. This is even more true if they are wearing personal bodycams.

Anyone recording you, cannot in turn refuse to be recorded.

Private Property:

When you walk on to private property. Assuming there are no visible CCTV or signs saying you are being recorded. This is the only time people can refuse to allow you to record them, and vice versa. However, once a recording device of any kind comes out by the owner of that property. They have now lost their right to privacy and in turn given consent to being recorded.

Even if on private property. Once you can see CCTV of any kind. The owner of that property cannot refuse to be recorded by you if you choose. As they have already consented to being recorded.

You do not get to choose who can or cannot record you.
Once you consent to being recorded, anyone can record you.

You cannot just walk on to such a property with a recording device. Neither obvious or especially concealed. Without first getting permission from the owner. Well, actually you can conceal your recording device. But you’ll never be able to use in court, or make public what you record without their consent. No matter what crimes you may record being committed. All evidence must be obtained legally or the case can be dismissed.

Again, all this also applies to you or the other party as the case may be.

Public Servants:

Anyone working in the performance of their duties who are public servants cannot refuse to be recorded. This is because they are paid with public funds. You as a member of the public and provider of those funds have a right to document their actions.

This includes but is not limited to Garda, council workers, regulatory bodies (TV licence inspectors etc).

Anywhere in public. Also in private where you see a CCTV or a public servant. You are entitled to record.

If a Garda asks you to stop recording, you can refuse. You may be arrested and charged with any number of minor offenses. But it will be dismissed. These are simply intimidation tactics.

Personal Body Cams:

As you are in the public, and as such almost always being recorded. I would recommend that everyone obtain and use personal body cams similar to those used by security officers. Especially if they are expecting any kind of authorities or confrontational interactions, for example at protests. They are not expensive for the protections they provide. Especially in a world that is getting less safe mostly due to the corruption and insidious manipulation that is happening.

Publishing your recordings:

What you record, especially in the public, is considered to be in the public domain anyway. So if you walk on to a commercial property and have difficulty with a security officer, management or Garda. That recording is your personal property and you are entitled to publish it as you see fit.

Social media platforms on the other hand generally have offices based in other countries. Ass such they must implement policies and procedures to protect themselves. Therefore they also have the right to prevent you from publishing that recording. Especially if the person being recorded objects.

Legally, the person objecting has no right to do so, especially if it was recorded in the public. But the platform does have the right to choose what goes on it and what doesn’t. There are usually policies in place that allow people to have recordings of them removed should they wish it.

Their platform, their rules.

Child Safety:

Above, in various places we talked about your rights and the rights of others to record and when being recorded. We gave an example for when you were in a park and someone decided to clearly record you. Now lets get into this very sore subject and set it right. If for no other reason than to avoid readers mishandling these circumstances.

Lets pretend your in a public park with your kids and some stranger decides to record you. You obviously meaning your kids too in this context. Do they have the right to do so? Unfortunately, yes they do. However creepy this may feel.

If you are concerned about this. Then your first action is to begin recording them from the outset. Usually just the action of seeing you recording them as you approach, will be enough for them to stop. Then you simply walk up to the person and politely request them to cease recording your children. Remember:

You have no right to use force or become abusive or threatening.

If they fail to comply with your wish. The most threatening language you can and should use is that you will call the Garda. If this persists, then carry out your threat, round up your children, and follow the person. As long as it is safe to do so. Keeping the Garda informed, of your whereabouts, and recording as you progress. If they get into a vehicle, note the plate numbers etc.

When the Garda arrive. Tell them your concerns. There is child safety legislation under which they can act. They can confiscate the recording device and arrest the individual. But if the individual is cooperative, this is unlikely to happen. At best they may demand they remove the recording, or take the recording device and do so. As mentioned, they are being cooperative so they will comply. Failure to comply will only escalate the situation resulting in the person being arrested and charged.

This is unfortunately the best and only action you can take. You brought your child out into the public. You are responsible for their safety. Random strangers have no obligation to you or your children and they do have the right to record. Regardless of your child safety concerns.