Monday, February 26, 2007

CCTV Regulation Eyed for Privacy

Extracted from the Korea Times (Feb, 21, 2007):
The government plans to employ tighter restrictions on the use of close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public spaces over privacy concerns.

According to plans announced by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs Wednesday, policymakers are also considering lowering the voting age to 19 for local elections as they prepare to introduce recall elections in July that allow voters to remove an elected official from office.

``We expect to produce legal guidelines by the end of the year that will regulate the installment and use of CCTV cameras to protect the privacy of individuals and reduce infringements,’’ said Home Affairs Minister Park Myung-jae in a news conference at the central government complex in Seoul.

Although the ministry did not reveal details of the regulations, there are a number of related bills being discussed in the National Assembly.

The suggestions include limiting the buildings and public spaces where the surveillance cameras can be used and employing stricter guidelines on the storage of images and their availability.

CCTV cameras have been increasingly used by administrators and law enforcement officials in recent years, especially in high-income neighborhoods or business districts, to eliminate the fears of crime among residents. However, critics have been urging authorities to take a harder look at the concerns over privacy infringement.

Currently, there are about 7,500 CCTV cameras installed by the municipal government or police in Seoul, which means one camera for every 1,300 of the city’s residents.

Under the representative recall system that will be enacted in July, voters of a municipal district can sign a petition to have an incumbent official removed from office.

To enable a recall election, at least 10 percent of registered voters must sign the petition.

At least one-third of the electorate must participate in the recall election and the representative needs a majority of 50 percent plus one vote to stay in office.

The ministry also said it plans to interview leaders at 104 organizations _ including civil servants unions, civic groups, and media outlets _ through the end of next month before finalizing a framework on a new pension system for public workers. The government has been planning to cut retirement payments and raise contribution rates because of increasing concerns about shrinking pension fund assets.


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