Cup cameras could zoom in on texters
Thu, 03 May 2012 7:51a.m.
Surveillance cameras used during the Rugby World Cup could zoom in on individual spectators and camera operators could read their text messages, a privacy forum has heard.
Police monitoring of last year's tournament was up for discussion at the forum, held in Wellington on Wednesday.
Superintendent Grant O'Fee told the forum about one incident during the Rugby World Cup that he says sparked a concern about possible privacy breaches.
Camera operators scanning the crowd for unruly behaviour and suspicious packages chose to zoom in on a person who was texting.
"He was actually texting about the poor quality of the game of rugby. But it did occur to me that there was an issue there, had he been texting something that was of some consequence to us, there may have been privacy issues," Supt O'Fee said.
He later confirmed that the level of monitoring used during the tournament would continue for all big test matches, the Dominion Post reports.
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says reading someone's text messages in public could cause concern, but the legitimacy of the action could depend on what it was used for.
"We need to be aware of that, that potentially texting in a public place can be caught on a CCTV camera.
"If the text showed the person was plotting a riot or something, then it might well be legitimate for the police to use that under the coverage of exemption for law-enforcement activities," she said
"But if they were to use it simply out of nosiness, that might not be exempt."
Awareness and education about surveillance methods is crucial, Ms Shroff said.
The forum also heard that the average person is digitally recorded about 12 times a day, but this number increases if someone uses email and social media frequently.
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