Portugal mulls easing restrictions on police access to private CCTV

Portugal’s government may amend the country’s laws on the use of closed-circuit television, given that at present it is “more restrictive for the security forces” than for private operators, the secretary of state for internal administration, Isabel Oneto said. “In CCTV there are legal restrictions,” Oneto told the audience  in Lisbon at an international congress on security and democracy. “We shall try to proceed to changes in this area.” In comments to Lusa, the Secretary of State said that the ministry was “studying the matter” with a view to making CCTV not “so restrictive” for the security forces.
According to Oneto, there are currently thousands of CCTV systems in private spaces with public access, such as shopping centres, hospitals, nightclubs and transportation. “There’s no reason why, in certain spaces with public access, the security forces can only gain access to these images if they have explicit authorisation from a court for the purpose of investigating crimes. This means that there can be no crime prevention on the part of the security forces.”
At present, she stressed, the law permits CCTV “in public space with restrictions that are not the same as those that are made in private spaces with public access”. For that reason, she argued, there is a need “to create a balance between the public space and the private space with public access.” Oneto stressed that access to CCTV “has been a fundamental instrument in the question of terrorism in various countries in Europe” and said that “there is no reason why Portuguese police [should] remain blind in this matter when there actually already exists this CCTV.”

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