Rights group to monitor CCTV

The Cayman Islands Human
Rights Commission has taken a keen interest in the government’s proposal to
install more than 300 closed-circuit television cameras to monitor public areas
on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

However, the group has not
yet formed an opinion on the use of the devices, largely because members aren’t
certain how they are to be used.

“All we know is that this is
what (government) would like to do,” said commission chairman Richard Coles, a
former Cayman Islands attorney general. “Clearly, that has implications for
privacy rights of private citizens.”

Mr. Coles recently sent a
letter to Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks asking that the committee be kept up
to date on progress with the cameras, which are being installed as an
integrated monitoring system in response to public concern about violent crimes
on Grand Cayman.

The Human Rights Commission
would obviously have concerns about the placing of the cameras, once that is
determined. But Mr. Coles said there are other issues the commission would like
to examine.

“One of the real issues is
the information that those cameras record,” he said. “Where will it be stored?
How long will it be stored? When will it be destroyed and under what
circumstances will it be destroyed?”

“I’m sure they’ve thought
about all of these things and I’m sure there will be policies on them,” Mr.
Coles said. “That’s what we would like to see.”

Officials with the Portfolio
of Internal and External Affairs acknowledged during a recent interview that a
major consideration in the use of the CCTV cameras is how the data collected
would be transported and stored.

But those issues will have
to be determined at least partially by the company that wins the CCTV project
bid. Tenders for bids on the system went out last month. 

As far as transporting the
captured images, Portfolio Deputy Chief Officer Eric Bush said it can probably
be done either wirelessly or on a secure fibre optic network owned by the
Cayman Islands government. But that can’t be done everywhere on the Islands, he
said. Some locations will have to depend on physical transport of the recording

How the cameras are secured
and exactly how they are to be placed in their locations will also depend on
the company that wins the bid to install and maintain them.

Mr. Bush said it was likely
that 911 would hire an additional employee to act as a CCTV administrator. The
data recordings and use of the cameras, especially the pan/tilt/zoom cameras,
should also be available for audits to determine whether they’re being used
properly, he said.

The bid documents would specify how long the recordings
should be kept in the system. If police need to use any part of the recording,
they should be able to burn those sections to a CD, Mr. Bush said.