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European Data Protection Board publishes new guidelines on processing of personal data through video devices

In July 2019, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) Plenary meeting adopted guidelines on the processing of personal data through video devices (“Guidelines”). The Guidelines illustrate the strict requirements laid down in the GDPR for a rightful video surveillance. Background of the Guidelines’ publication lies in the increased use of video devices in in a broad range of everyday situations in life. The amount of data that can be collected by video devices as well as the use of artificial intelligence in such matters would seriously restrict the possibilities to stay anonymous and to preserve one’s privacy. Therefore, the use of video devices would have massive effects on data protection. For this reason, the general principles of Art. 5 GDPR should be examined in a particularly careful way in every single case. As an example, the EDPB already mentions in the introduction to the Guidelines that video surveillance would not always be the least stringent means to an end. Otherwise, a cultural change in which the lack of privacy would be accepted as general ground state might threaten to arise.

In order to prevent such a development, the EDPB has published the Guidelines, which may also have important indications for Swiss data protection law. With regard to the geographical scope, the Guidelines might be applicable to Swiss companies as well. In most cases, it is unlikely that the GDPR would be applicable to video surveillance in Switzerland. However, its prerequisites must be met where companies (e.g. museums) offer services to EU citizens in Switzerland where video surveillance is associated with such offer.

Therefore, the Guidelines might be of interest for the practice. Although they are soft law, they provide useful indications to authorities and tribunals in connection with the interpretation of the GDPR. Furthermore, they might become of interest for the interpretation of actual and future Swiss data protection law by Swiss authorities, tribunals and companies.

The European Data Protection Board welcomes comments on the Guidelines on processing of personal data through video devices. Such comments should be sent to by 9th September 2019 at the latest.

More information can be found here