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More on CCTV in Japan

July 7, 2009

The slightly left-leaning Asahi Shimbun newspaper had a pretty balanced if uninspiring editorial this week on the spread of CCTV cameras in Japan. The English translation is available here.

The most important thing in the editorial is the recommendation of national laws for CCTV. This would be better than in the UK for example, where there still isn’t any national regulation of CCTV except for the Data Protection Act. The paper’s suggestions are:

  • transparent operational procedures with ‘rigorous conditions’ for the sharing of images
  • third party oversight for police cameras and a ‘help desk where people can complain about being caught on tape’

This is a start, but only a start, and the second one would probably prove completely unworkable especially if cameras become more widespread. It would be rather better for some kind of permission system to operate, where cameras were seen as an exceptional response to a proven need. The paper is already accepting the normality of CCTV cameras in public spaces regardless of the evidence of their effectiveness- which it acknowledges is equivocal (in fact it’s generally much worse than that in the UK) or indeed the wider social impacts.

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