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Debate over whether Vumacam’s surveillance network flouts privacy rules

28 September 2021 7:56 AM
Tags:
CCTV footage
privacy
POPIA
privacy laws
data privacy
Vumacam
security cameras

Breakfast host Refilwe Moloto chats to investigative journalist Heidi Swart about Vumacam's surveillance camera network.
  • Vumacam's growing surveillance camera network continues to spark privacy debates
  • The security company currently has over 5,000 cameras across Joburg and plans to keep expanding
  • Investigative journo Heidi Swart has questioned whether its surveillance system meets privacy laws

Image: © pixinoo/123rf.com

Privacy regulators will have to test new data laws against Vumacam technology which has enabled video feeds across Johannesburg, says investigative journalist Heidi Swart.

Vumacam has a rapidly expanding surveillance camera network across Joburg and sells its footage to private security companies.

The firm says it uses automatic licence plate recognition (ALPR) cameras to help track criminal activity but the growing surveillance system has raised privacy fears.

RELATED: Vumacam MD insists private CCTV video feeds across Jozi are in line with the law

Swart says there are still grey areas in the Protection of Personal Information Act (often called the POPI Act or POPIA).

She says the regulations don't have specific provisions on how much surveillance footage can be collected or how long it can be legally stored.

In 2020, Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock spoke to Lester Kiewit clarifying Vumacam does not collect personal data or sell it to third parties and operations are in line with all current by-laws and the necessary permissions have been granted for all operations.

RELATED: We don’t collect or sell personal data – Vumacam

"There's nothing really specifically protecting us, protecting our privacy when it comes to surveillance cameras", Swart tells CapeTalk.

There's nothing really specifically protecting us, protecting our privacy when it comes to surveillance cameras.

Heidi Swart, Investigative journalist

At the moment, when it comes to video footage and CCTV, there's nothing that specifically says you're only allowed to keep video footage for this long or you're only allowed to take this kind of footage or you have to blur people's faces out when you're taking this footage.

Heidi Swart, Investigative journalist

Vumacam themselves say that they are compliant but POPIA is something that has to be lived before it can be established. All these laws are new so we have to see how they are going to be implemented.

Heidi Swart, Investigative journalist

In the end, there are many loopholes in POPIA or at least exceptions that, for instance, allow for certain intrusions on privacy, if it is for people's safety. That will depend on how information regulators interpret it.

Heidi Swart, Investigative journalist



28 September 2021 7:56 AM
Tags:
CCTV footage
privacy
POPIA
privacy laws
data privacy
Vumacam
security cameras

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