How to ensure you don’t find yourself in hot water – CCTV and Privacy


When installing CCTV, it is key that you understand what parts of the Privacy Act 1993 you need to comply with, particularly when it comes to your business. Here are a few things for you to consider so you don’t find yourself in hot water with your staff, employees or your neighbours!

For Businesses

1. Decide whether CCTV is right for you – are you in retail and you need to monitor your shop for theft? Do you operate a warehouse and you need it to monitor the health and safety of your staff?

2. Have a clear plan – ensure you outline what the purpose is (i.e. to monitor for theft, H&S etc), what equipment you will use, how privacy will be minimised, who will be responsible for the operation of the CCTV and how the images collected will be handled.

3. Selecting and positioning cameras – this is really important as you need to ensure you are meeting your needs, whilst also minimising the impact on people’s privacy. As a rule of thumb, CCTV cameras should never be placed in bathrooms or changing areas.

4. Make people aware of the CCTV – this applies to both the public and to employees of your business. People should be notified before entering a zone monitored by CCTV that cameras are operating and who owns and operates them. Providing a policy on your website or at reception ensures that employees and the public are aware of CCTV and it’s use in your business. Auckland Live who provide regional event facilities has a great example of a CCTV policy published online here which provides the public with all the relevant details required in accordance with the Privacy Act 1993.

6. Using the CCTV images – it’s important that you only use the images collected for the original purposes you collected them – i.e. if you collect them to monitor theft, you can’t then use the images to monitor staff attendance. You must also take care not to disclose images without the individuals consent or consultation with the police.

7. Storage and retention of images – to maintain the integrity of your images, ensure that there is no unauthorised access and where possible, keep a log of who accesses the images.

The Privacy commission has a great summary of the guidelines which you can find here. There is also a checklist for small businesses which can be found in the CCTV Summary of Guidelines link.

For the Home

Unlike in businesses, CCTV in and around your own home isn’t necessarily subject to the same privacy laws. However, common sense prevails and as a rule of thumb, don’t have your cameras facing a public road, or onto your neighbours property. If you are caught covertly filming your neighbour without their consent and publish this footage, you could be prosecuted under the crimes act – so it’s important to respect their privacy! Click here for more information. If you are renting your house out through AirBnB, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and you don’t want to end up on the news like this homeowner here!

This is not an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts – please seek legal advice if you are unsure about where you sit legally.