Volume 95, Issue 33

Wednesday, October 31, 2001
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UWO prof: West 'feasting' on Africa

Panicked masses seek salvation

The world at war

Big Brother set to watch over London

News Briefs

A/V kids vs. brainiac in debate

Halloween safe for sugar-crazed kids

Big Brother set to watch over London

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Forget the old adage about the one-eyed monster – the one in London has 16.

The City of London's plans to operate 16 surveillance cameras in the downtown core are slowly inching closer to getting the green light.

A meeting yesterday between the city council's community and protective services committee was the first in the final few steps the city will take before presenting their recommendations to council, according to Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco.

While surveillance plans have been in the works since the 1999 downtown stabbing death of Michael Goldie-Ryder, they have been delayed in part so the city could satisfy public concerns over privacy, said David Tennant, co-chair of the city's co-ordinating committee for community safety and president of the Hampton Group Inc.

"This has been a long time coming; I think the city has done the right thing in terms of taking the time to make sure that the protocol was set up to satisfy the terms of the privacy commission," he said.

Tennant said the installation of 16 cameras will mark the largest installation of a public surveillance system in Canada intended solely for ensuring public safety.

"The protocol we have developed, in terms of how the system will be operated, will probably end up being a bench mark for other cities looking to do something similar," Tennant said.

The surveillance will be taken up by a number of community partners, one of which is Neighborhood Watch Inc., who will be responsible for auditing the system quarterly.

According to Neighborhood Watch program manager Janet Andruchow, four board members will sign confidentiality contracts in exchange for positions on the steering committee for the project.

Bob Spencer, communications co-ordinator for Ontario's Information and Privacy Commission, stressed the need for the city to be extremely careful with their surveillance initiative.

"The first step in their implementation is to decide whether or not you need to use cameras or if you can come up with any other way to deal with the problem," he said, noting all the city's actions will be governed by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.

Under the act, all individuals recorded on video have legal access to the information and any policy the city implements must comply with the act, Spencer said.

Margaret Ann Wilkinson, associate Western professor in the faculty of law, emphasized the need for the city to take privacy legislation into consideration when using information obtained by tape recordings.

"I would suggest that they do need to be careful – this is an era where people can be more interested in security than human rights because of the climate after Sept. 11," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001