Video surveillance – what is allowed?

When installing a video camera, the question often arises as to what is allowed in order not to conflict with the law. In this respect, Switzerland has certain rules of conduct. If you break the law, a serious matter can be caused by not informing oneself thoroughly enough with the right information. But what exactly is not allowed and what are the consequences? This blog article, with information on the subject of video surveillance and what is permitted, is not intended to serve as a legal text but is merely supposed to point out some important facts which the user should deal with beforehand.

In a situation in which a person is illegally filmed, they are allowed to contact the operator of the system and request the deletion of the video footage. This is the case when the identification of a person on a video recording is actually possible. A video camera should only record an area that is limited to the user’s own property. The neighbouring property, or a public space, should not be recognizable. Furthermore, there has to be a good reason why a camera is being installed. This would be, for example, the justification that it is used for the safety of a particular person or when an object of value is supposed to be protected. Hence, if the interference in the privacy of a filmed person is inevitable, it should always be logically related to the purpose. However, these recordings cannot be stored for longer than 24 hours and an indication should be given that a video-monitored area is entered as well as contact information in order to obtain information about the data. However, if the right is still on the victim’s side, which was filmed illegally because there was no necessary reason, then a change in the camera’s perspective must be initiated, such as a change in the viewing angle or even the camera location. Furthermore, recordings should not be published without existing consent. If a crime has been filmed, the law enforcement agency should be involved.

Upon repeated request of a person to change the camera angle, he or she are entitled to request information about which data is processed about his/her person (Art.8DSG). The film clips must be made available forcibly. Another step would be to sue before the civil court to demand the deletion of the data and to change the attitude of surveillance. The person is even entitled to compensation or satisfaction. The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner even recommends seeking a lawyer in the worst-case scenario. Constant video surveillance at work is not allowed here, workers can get help from the cantonal labour inspectorate. In order to avoid all these problems, it is therefore extremely important to act in compliance with data protection.

As mentioned briefly at the beginning, YourVcam does not provide legal advice in this text, but merely expresses its own opinion. Therefore, any liability is excluded. It is up to the user to seek professional advice in individual cases and in cases of doubt, e.g. through a law office.

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