Local legislation guards privacy, limits cameras

China Daily Updated: 2024-03-05

New legislation on security cameras is aimed at regulating the use of video feeds and protecting people's privacy, rather than having more cameras installed, a local legislator said as the city of Zhuzhou, in Hunan province, enacted the nation's first local legislation on the issue.

The Zhuzhou Public Security Video Imaging Information System Management Regulation came into effect on Friday.

Previously, various local governments had rolled out measures on managing public security cameras, but Zhuzhou was the first to adopt a local law on the issue, China National Radio reported.

Instead of explicitly listing areas where cameras should be installed, the Zhuzhou regulation said that locations where cameras ought to be should "comply with relevant laws, regulations and national compulsory standards". It also listed areas where cameras should not be installed, such as hotel rooms and fitting rooms, and said that operators of such areas should check for any illegally installed cameras.

Cao Quanguo, a senior official of the Zhuzhou legislature, said the regulation was the result of listening to the opinions of various sides during the legislation process.

"How and in what scope should the law list the areas where cameras should be installed are controversial," Cao told China National Radio. "Also, we made the local law to standardize the use of cameras, and we are not trying to install more.

"We are practicing whole-process people's democracy and letting the public know about and support the regulation."

He said some 500 people participated in legislative consultations, more than 17,000 took part in an online survey, and the legislature gave feedback to all 533 suggestions.

According to the regulation, the city government should integrate video feeds installed by different government departments and build a unified platform to reduce disorderly and repetitive installation. Operators of cameras not installed by the government will be encouraged to connect them to the government's network, but it will not be compulsory.

"The legislature believed that there are other ways to protect public security than compulsory connection of private video feeds," Cao said.

To further protect privacy, the regulation stipulates that only during emergencies, such as when an elderly person, child or mentally ill patient goes missing, can their relatives apply for police departments to look for them in video feeds. Only officers will be able to check the video feeds, and searches for missing pets or possessions will not be allowed.

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