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Cotham School Spy Cameras Ruled Unlawful by ICO

Hidden cameras set up by a school to covertly monitor members of the public have been ruled unlawful by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Cotham School in Bristol, who have had a long-running battle with almost everyone they encounter, fell foul of GDPR laws after tiny unmarked cameras were found in a junction box at Stoke Lodge.

A complaint lodged by MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones, received a response from the ICO this week.

The ICO said: ‘Due to the cameras’ positioning in a location that individuals would not reasonably expect and not being easily sighted, we would consider that any processing of information (ie capturing identifiable individuals) by the cameras during permissive hours would be in contravention of the principles of data protection law. Specifically, we are of the view that the processing would not meet the school’s obligation under Article 5 (1) (a) of the UK GDPR to process information in a fair or transparent way.

‘The need for transparency is a fundamental aspect of data protection law. Organisations should tell people when they are capturing their personal data, where appropriate. However, it is recognised that the use of surveillance systems often presents challenges for providing individuals with privacy information. For example, it could prove difficult to ensure that an individual is fully informed of recording taking place if the system is fixed in a location that individuals would not reasonably expect.

‘As above, due to the position and size of the cameras in question and the lack of any further signage within the site indicating their operation or location, we do not consider that the school has fully met its transparency obligations.

‘Having reviewed the available information, it is our view that the operation of clearly visible CCTV cameras at times when the general public, or those authorised by the school, are permitted to use the site would not only have provided a deterrent effect. The operation of the junction box cameras as is, provides a more limited deterrent effect and is more privacy intrusive specifically during permissive hours. As such, we are also of the view that the processing of data captured by the cameras does not meet the requirement of processing the data fairly.’

The ICO said they ‘expect the school to take steps to address the operation of the junction box cameras during permissive hours’. They also said they would follow up with the school in ‘due course to ensure these steps have been taken’.

Cotham School responded to the finding today with a – we do not recognise anyone else’s version of events – statement saying: ‘The school has no requirements from the IPCO to act upon.’

The school – which provides a life-enhancing education that develops the character, talents and potential of every child – except the pupil with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities they traumatised through unlawful exclusions and blocking access to education. Not forgetting stopping pupils using local shops, bullied children hiding in toilets and refusing pupils access to toilets forcing them to bleed through their uniform when on their period – of course had a comeback.

Due to Cotham School collating our own Tweets, personal information, images and articles, fabricating evidence and storing it on their own school PCs, we don’t particularly wish to publish their response directly.

Community Group We Love Stoke Lodge have stated that they believe Cotham School should remove the tiny cameras hidden in the junction box.

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