The following is a case study which has not been featured in the Data Protection Commission’s Annual Reports. This case study provides an insight into an example of an issue that the Office investigates on a day-to-day basis.
This complaint concerned an alleged incomplete response to a subject’s access request for CCTV footage made by the complainant to an educational institution. The complainant advised that they were the victim of an alleged attempted assault. The complainant requested access to CCTV footage from the time the alleged assault happened, in particular in relation to a specific identified time period from two different camera angles.
In response to the request by the organisation, a select number of stills from the CCTV footage relating to one camera were provided to the complainant. The complainant requested to be provided with a still for every second of the recording in which the complainant’s image appeared. The response received from the educational institution was that all “significant” footage, in the opinion of the controller, had been provided and as the CCTV cameras were on a 30-day recording cycle, the footage had since been recorded over. The controller clarified that it did not store any footage unless there was a “lawful requirement” to do so.
The DPC noted that, when a valid access request is made to a data controller, the request must be complied with by the data controller with a certain period. (Under Article 12(3) of the GDPR, this is generally set at one month).
The right of access to personal data is one of the key fundamental rights provided for in data protection legislation. In the context of access requests to CCTV footage, the data controller’s obligation to provide a copy of the requester’s personal data usually requires providing a copy of the CCTV footage in video format. Where this is not possible, such as where the footage is technically incapable of being copied to another device, or in other exceptional circumstances, it may be acceptable to provide a data subject with stills as an alternative to video footage. However, in such circumstances where stills are provided, the data controller should provide the data subject with a still for every second of the recording in which the data subject’s image appears and an explanation of why the footage cannot be provided in video format. The controller should also preserve all footage relating to the period specified until such time as the requester confirms that they are satisfied with the response provided.
As the data controller had not provided the complainant with either the CCTV footage requested or a complete set of the stills relating to the specified period, the data controller failed to comply with its obligations in relation to the right of access, both from a time perspective (Article 12(3)) and regarding the provision of a full and complete set of personal data processed by the controller (Article 15).
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.