$21 million network of video 'eyes' justified for safety of riders, privacy czar rules
Mar 04, 2008 04:30 AM
Kerry Gillespie
Queen's Park Bureau

Surveillance cameras make TTC riders feel safer and the plan to dramatically expand their numbers is okay with Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's privacy commissioner.

Installing 11,000 cameras on buses, streetcars, subway cars and in stations complies with privacy standards, Cavoukian said yesterday when she released the results of her investigation.

But the TTC must make some changes to ensure the network of seeing eyes is used only for legitimate purposes and never for voyeurism, as has happened in other cities, she said.

Cavoukian urged that the TTC:
Delete video data after three days unless it's needed for a police investigation.
Conduct annual audits to make sure privacy rules are followed.
Test a privacy-enhancing technology, under development at University of Toronto, that automatically encrypts people's images.

The recommendations are meant to balance the legitimate needs for transit system safety and passenger privacy, Cavoukian stated.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone endorsed her findings and said his staff will be coming back with a plan for implementing them.

Privacy International, the London-based organization whose complaint trigged Cavoukian's investigation, was less pleased.

"It is clear ... the Commissioner has given up the ghost of privacy and become resigned to the inevitability of video surveillance technology," the group said on its website. ...

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    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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