Law change needed for CCTV

    TOPOutdoorCCTVLEAD

    A legal snag of sorts has come up in Cayman’s attempts to install a closed circuit television camera system in the public right of way.

    But government officials said they don’t expect the issue to delay the planned installation of the first batch of cameras much further beyond the last week of March.

    “Maybe only a few days, up to a week, not months or anything like that,” said Eric Bush, deputy chief officer of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, which is spearheading the CCTV project. “Of course, it has to pass by a majority vote in the Legislative Assembly.”

    The issue will require a change in Cayman’s Information and Communications Technology Law that is expected to lead to the Caribbean Utilities Company forming a telecommunications subsidiary.

    According to Mr. Bush, proposed legislation has already been approved by Cabinet and will be heading to the full Legislative Assembly 
for approval soon.

    The Cayman Islands Government already has a developed data network that will allow it to transmit images captured by CCTV cameras back to storage areas either through wireless communications or telecom lines.

    However, that network doesn’t reach everywhere on Grand Cayman and the ability to use CUC electric lines in some areas to transmit those images would help keep costs down for the project.

    The problem is CUC is not considered a telecommunications company under the ICTA Law, and it would have to be licensed under that legislation if its existing power lines were to be used in this manner.

    Such a licence typically requires telecom companies to pay six per cent of their annual revenues to the regulator, the Information and Communications Technology Authority.

    “Right now, that means they would have to pay six per cent of their profits for everything, including electric service,” Mr. Bush said.

    A proposed exemption in the amendment to the ICTA Law would let CUC avoid that fee by forming a subsidiary, which Mr. Bush said would be known as data link, to handle transmissions for the government’s CCTV project.

    For that consideration, government will pay “a negligible fee” to the newly formed CUC subsidiary for the use of its power lines for CCTV image transmission.

    “We’re still negotiating those figures, it’s less than $20 a month for each attachment,” Mr. Bush said.

    CUC officials were contacted for comment on this story, but declined to speak on it immediately.

    The public CCTV system as proposed by government would have approximately 350 cameras operating once it’s complete. However, many of those cameras will be contained in clusters known as pod”, so the number of actual camera locations will be around 110.

    “If we have 75 attachments, let’s say, that’s $1,500 a month [government would have to pay],” Mr. Bush said by way of example.

    Assuming the changes to the ICTA Law are approved by legislators, a licensing process will have to proceed between CUC and members of the ICTA board and Mr. Bush said the use of CUC infrastructure can only be approved for government’s purposes by 
the regulatory board.

    Some 167 closed-circuit television cameras were scheduled to start going up at 60 different locations around Grand Cayman in late March.

    The installation process isn’t expected to be complete until June, but Mr. Bush has said the cameras should start working once they are installed.

    The cameras will only monitor public areas and will not be allowed to surveil private property.

    CCTV cameras actually covers three different types of cameras including fixed video cameras, pan-tilt-zoom video cameras and automatic number plate readers, which take photos of licence plates.

    All three will be installed at the various locations identified by police, which will be clearly marked with signage indicating the cameras are in use.

    A fourth type, speed cameras, have not been purchased and will not be installed in the initial phase of the CCTV project. Cayman’s Traffic Law would have to be changed before those devices could legally be used on local roads.

    TOPOutdoorCCTVSTORY

    Closed circuit television cameras will soon be the norm on Grand Cayman once legal issues have been ironed out.
    Photo: File
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    3 COMMENTS

    1. This has to be the most, hairbrained, thoughtless, planless project ever devised by the CI Government and RCIPS.

      No human rights laws in place for public protection of abuse of surveillance data, no proper technology in place to transport the images.

      Now CUC, the monopoly power company under question for a guaranteed profits contract being given a telecommunications licence as well.

      Look out LIME and Digicel, here comes your next major competition, Mr. Sparky, himself !

      Is there any public information available on how many government ministers and officials have shares in CUC ?
      This might be a very relevent question for an FOI request.

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    2. Strange isn’t it that no one ever bothered to consult any of the hundreds of local authorities that use CCTV in the UK (my local borough council has been operating a major city centre system very effectively for nearly 25 years) about this contract.

      Doesn’t it just show where the real priorities lie?

      I get the impression that the planning phase of this project went along the lines of – buy the bits, plug them in, instant crime prevention but no one actually had a clue what was involved.

      Be interesting to see how much over budget and how late this comes into operation – particularly the ANPR aspect.

      Editor’s note: In fairness, the folks working on the CCTV project have been aware of this issue and have been dealing with potential solutions for quite some time. It has just come to light recently.

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    3. I don’t see the necessity for such legal gymnastics since CUC does not sell the signal to the public,the public has no access to it. The signal does not originate with CUC nor does CUC have any control over the contents of the signal. CUC lines are merely used as a conduit for a Government video feed.Of interest also is the question; if Government has an existing data network as Mr. Bush said, is the C.I Government licensed to operate such a data network??

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