Legitimate purpose

Video monitoring in public places such as streets, public schools, public hospitals, public libraries and other public institutions is allowed only if there is a specific legitimate purpose, such as the prevention of disorder and crime. In certain places where people expect a higher level of privacy, such as in toilets and fitting rooms, video surveillance is not acceptable.

Informed monitoring

Remember that you have to be informed when video monitoring is taking place. It is usually done by using informative symbols and signs, unless there are specific and legitimate reasons not to do so, for example in order to investigate a crime. The responsible authority has to inform you about the purpose and method of the surveillance mechanism, and indicate which institution is processing your data.

What human rights violation may there be?

Surveillance in public places by using technical equipment, which does not record data, does not as such interfere with the right to private life. However, a permanent recording of footage, its storage and other kinds of subsequent use is regarded as the collection and processing of an individual’s private information and an intrusion into your private life. Please bear in mind that only unlawful intrusion will result in the violation of your human right to private life.

Has the video surveillance been conducted lawfully?

To evaluate whether the video surveillance has been conducted lawfully and whether your privacy has been sufficiently respected, see the questions below. If, in your situation, your answer to one of these questions is negative, your privacy may have been violated. In such a case, you have the right to complain. Read more about how to complain.

Is it allowed by law?

Video monitoring, recording and the subsequent processing of footage that reveals your image should have a basis in law. You can find this basis in the General Data Protection Regulation or in other laws which specifically relate to video monitoring. For example, the Law on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations stipulates that video recording is allowed during public meetings, processions and demonstrations, while according to the Regulations on the Monitoring by Police Using Technical Means and Obtained Data Processing, a public place may be monitored for the purpose of the prevention of disorder and crime.

If video monitoring and the recording of the footage is not permitted by law, the performed action is not lawful and your right to private life may have been violated. There is no need then to examine the other criteria for lawfulness.

Does it serve a legitimate aim?

Video monitoring and the further processing of your data has to be aimed at the protection of other legitimate interests. These legitimate interests can be, for example:

  • public safety
  • the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime
  • the prevention of disorder
  • and protection of children etc.

If video surveillance and the processing of the footage do not have a legitimate aim, the video monitoring is not lawful and your right to private life may have been violated. There is no need then to examine further whether the surveillance was necessary and proportional.

Is it necessary?

The video monitoring should be necessary and suitable for the achievement of the legitimate aim. The information gathered has to be important and relevant to achieve the aim of the monitoring. Additionally, no other alternative and less restrictive methods should be available to achieve the legitimate aim.

To evaluate the need for the video monitoring, the following questions should be asked:

  • Has the scope of monitoring been too extensive? Namely, has additional data, which is not necessary for the protection of other legitimate interests been gathered?
  • Has the gathered data been further processed for purposes that were not initially determined? In such a situation your consent is required.
  • Has the data been kept longer than necessary?

The recordings should be retained for a very limited period of time, unless they are used for a specific legitimate aim, such as the investigation of a crime. They should be deleted after the determined period of time has passed and/or the recordings are no longer necessary for the initial purpose.

Is it proportionate?

A fair balance between two competing interests – your right to private life and the legitimate interests of the state or other persons – must be found. There have to be sufficient arguments why the interests of others outweighed your rights and the other way around in the particular case.

The following questions should be asked within the balancing process:

a) For how long was the monitoring carried out? Was it carried out systematically?

If the monitoring was carried out systematically for a relatively long period of time, your right to private life has been limited to a greater extent. The monitoring should be stopped immediately if it is no longer necessary for the achievement of the legitimate purpose. 

b) Were the recordings disclosed to other persons?

Videos depicting you shall not be disclosed to other persons without your consent, except in the specific situations listed exhaustively by law.

Read more about the disclosure of a video with your image.
Read more about video surveillance in the context of a crime.
Read more about video surveillance in the workplace.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education