Privacy groups sound alarm as B.C. community offers incentives for security cameras
A city program on Vancouver Island that offers rebates for security cameras in an effort to reduce crime is raising eyebrows among privacy advocates.
The City of Parksville is offering a one-time rebate of up to $100 for residents and business owners who wish to install cameras on their property.
All that’s needed is an application form and a receipt for the camera’s purchase and installation. Cameras are only eligible if they were purchased on or after July 2.
The program is intended to curb crime in the community, with the hopes that those security cameras can be used to find culprits behind everything from vandalism to robberies, the city said.
“Public safety is a priority for council and it is believed the addition of security cameras to businesses and residences will support law enforcement, deter criminal activity and contribute to the overall safety and security in the community,” the program’s application form reads.
City council has allocated $2,500 for the program this year, with plans to double that fund to $5,000 for 2020.
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But the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BCFIPA) said public education and consultation is needed to prevent Parksville from becoming a city where every corner is covered by cameras.
“It opens it up to make it easy for everyone to just put cameras in their backyard and it becomes an acceptable practice,” Sara Neuert, the association’s executive director said.
“At some point in time people are going to say, ‘What happened to the days I could just walk down the street without being filmed?'”
The city was unable to make someone available to address those privacy concerns on Friday.
It did say the program has received “significant interest,” but staff said they have yet to see a formal application.
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