Vancouver, B.C. – The BCCLA has made a submission to the British Columbia Legislative
Assembly urging that a new bill on video surveillance in schools be dropped. A new provision buried in a miscellaneous statutes amendments bill (Bill 20) would allow school boards, in consultation with school planning councils, to install and operate video surveillance in schools for purposes of safety or protection of property. Currently schools can install video surveillance if they meet the test for the collection of personal information set out in BC‟s public sector privacy legislation. The new bill „green lights‟ increased video surveillance in schools by doing away with a need to justify it.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director: “We believe this bill is going to usher in a needless, costly and harmful expansion of video surveillance in our schools. Study after study shows that video surveillance has very limited utility. It might be justified in a computer lab where there have been a series of reported thefts, but it should never be used to generally monitor student behaviour. That is an unacceptable intrusion on students‟ private lives that offers no quantifiable increase in safety.”
Studies of video surveillance in schools note a “function creep” which shows that cameras are initially placed on the perimeters of schools but soon “creep” into more controversial spaces like classrooms and washrooms.
Vonn: “The current law has the appropriate test. We have to remember that public schools have an important role in teaching the values of our free and democratic society. Schools must reflect the values of an open society and not the surveillance culture of the reformatory.”
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, 604-630-9753