Surveillance cameras raise privacy issues in Sask.
As more and more surveillance cameras are pointed at people, questions are being raised over how the information collected is being used — especially in Saskatchewan where the province's privacy chief says there is a legislative gap.
One company that specializes in security told CBC News that closed-circuit television systems are popping up in new spaces on a regular basis.
"You know, there's not anywhere that you would walk in Saskatoon that you are not going to find a video camera," Virgil Reed, of Reed Security, explained.
Reed said he installs around 900 systems for clients in a typical year.
He estimates there are likely 15,000 to 20,000 such systems, just in Saskatoon.
Reed believes advances in digital technology have led to lower costs for security systems and that is one of the reasons behind the proliferation of surveillance cameras.
So many cameras pointed at so many people has Gary Dickson, the provincial Privacy Commissioner, lifting an eyebrow.
"You're collecting the personal information of everybody who walks down that hallway or walks past the camera," Dickson told CBC News. "And that opens up a whole set of responsibilities."
Dickson points out that despite privacy laws passed by the provincial and federal governments, not all situations are covered.
One area with a glaring omission, he noted, is cameras in the workplace.
"There are no privacy laws that apply to protect employees," Dickson said.
Dickson flagged that issue in his annual report of 2003-2004, and called upon the provincial government to enact laws similar to acts in place in B.C. and Alberta.
However, no legislation for Saskatchewan has been prepared.
When it comes to the use of security cameras in areas where provincial laws do apply, Dickson has produced a list of guidelines on what agencies should do to respect people's privacy.
With files from CBC's Dan Zakreski