Is cloud storage really right for Body Worn Cameras?

Big Brother Watch Team / July 14, 2016

Body worn cameras are fast becoming one of the most talked about tools being made available to law enforcement; police forces across the country are scrambling to introduce them to assist them with policing but also to help reduce concerns about misconduct.

Whilst the privacy concerns are regularly addressed about the use of the cameras themselves, rarely are the issues regarding the storage of the footage looked at in depth.

This week though Bloomberg have been running a series of articles about body worn cameras. One which caught our eye has revealed that Taser, the largest manufacturer of body worn cameras are holding on their cloud storage website around 4.6 petabytes of footage taken from body worn cameras. 4.6 petabytes of data is the equivalent of Netflix’s entire online catalogue. Put another way one petabyte is approximately 20 million 4 drawer filing cabinets full of text.

Such a vast store of information, which will undoubtedly contain sensitive footage and personal information, must be properly secured, but unfortunately Taser has a less than impressive record on this.

In July 2015 Sky News reported that Taser was using a system which could potentially be insecure. Although the company argued that “cloud hosted systems are significantly more secure than home-grown on-premise systems” the story raised vital questions about how safe the information actually is.

The Metropolitan Police, in response, said it was planning to “move quickly” to store the information on its own systems, whilst West Yorkshire Police said that “all future data will be stored on secure West Yorkshire Police servers”.

The protection of personal information, in whatever format it is held, is absolutely critical given that modern society is increasingly fuelled by data. Our most recent report Safe in Police Hands? shows that all too often forces are failing to understand their responsibilities towards the personal information of members of the public. The many thousands of hours of footage will be a treasure trove of personal information, meaning that now more than ever police forces have to take data protection seriously.

The benefits of using body worn cameras will continue to be debated. But with more and more organisations using them we must not forget about the real issues that need to be tackled when it comes to storing footage and keeping it secure.