From the Editor’s Desk: April 2015

CCTV cameras are now to be seen everywhere in India. At airports, railway stations and bus terminals, government buildings, offices, hotels, hospitals, schools, colleges, restaurants, shops and even homes! Thanks to the falling prices and promotion of the concept by the media, police and all those who believe that CCTV system is the cure for all security related ailments, their usage today is rampant. Anybody who perceives a security risk to himself, his family, his staff or his assets usually thinks of installing CCTV cameras as the first step.

The CCTV industry has grown rapidly to become worth a few thousand crores annual business in India. Just the first phase of the Mumbai city surveillance project was awarded for INR 950 crores to L&T to install 6000 cameras across the city! Imagine, as per the 2011 census, there are more than 1600 cities in India! This business is poised to grow by leaps and bounds over the next several years as cameras that cost as low as Rs. 2000 find their way everywhere – including changing rooms!

Recently, Union Human Resource Development Minister, Ms. Smriti Irani, spotted a camera allegedly pointing towards the trial room at a lifestyle showroom in Goa and lodged a police complaint against the store’s staff and management. Since then, the police have made several arrests in the matter and investigations are still going on. In other cases, CCTV has been used to secretly film people in compromising stances.

Since there are as yet no specific guidelines and standards for the installation of CCTV and other security equipment in India, the fact is that the location and the usage of these devices is left to the whims and fancies of anybody and everybody. However, the good news is that soon we may see the first set of guidelines and standards emerging; as the Bureau of Indian Standards has recently set up a committee to develop these. The misuse of electronic surveillance and other recording systems in India is today primarily governed by the Information Technology Act, 2000. Section 66E of the Act stipulates that whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.

In today’s insecure times, CCTVs are an absolute must, so legislation will have to strike a balance between privacy and security. Detailed guidelines are required on the due diligence and responsibilities of CCTV camera owners, since they are classified as intermediaries under the IT Act. Also, the extent of the liability in cases of leak of sensitive information or footage has to be specified.

The privacy law, which has been at the drafting stage since the past five years, aims to have a separate chapter on surveillance, detailing the dos and don’ts for CCTV cameras. The use of a surveillance camera system must take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy, with regular reviews, at least annually, to ensure its use remains justified.

Let’s wait and watch!

In this edition we bring you some insights on an entrepreneur’s challenging journey in setting up a Rs.600 crores business in the manned guarding sector. I hope that you like the readings as much as our team enjoyed putting them together for you!

Till next month, stay safe!


G B Singh

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