IFSEC International2019-06-06 13:55:08

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From ultra-HD resolution to deep learning-driven facial recognition and appearance searching, video surveillance technology has changed a lot since Tony Porter was appointed Surveillance Camera Commissioner in March 2014.

The industry is now worth £2.5bn a year and is high on the political agenda, with the technology offering powerful new crime-fighting capabilities while generating privacy concerns among civil liberties groups.

Porter, a former senior police officer with expertise in counter terrorism and serious and organised crime, is tasked with reviewing and encouraging compliance with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice; advising government ministers about the code’s evolution; and advising the public and system operators about the effective, proportionate and transparent use of surveillance camera systems. Speaking recently at the annual NSI Summit in Birmingham, Porter outlined the thought processes that later birthed the National surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales.

IFSEC Global spoke to Porter about launching the world’s first Surveillance Camera Day, including opening security control rooms to the general public, and the launch of ‘secure by default’ minimum requirements for video surveillance systems.

On 20 June 2019 – Surveillance Camera Day – Tony Porter will deliver a keynote address on ‘secure by default’ at IFSEC International 2019, then join a panel debate on the same topic. Both will take place in the Keynote Arena, ExCeL London.

  • Attack Aware: Secure by Default keynote, Tony Porter: 10:15-10:45am, 20 June
  • Secure by default panel debate: 10:45-11:05am, 20 June

IFSEC Global: Hi, Tony. How would you define your role?

Tony Porter: My role is to drive up standards in the video surveillance industry and make sure the public feel they’re being supported by them, not spied on by them.

IG: How has the video surveillance sector changed in the time you’ve been in the role?

TP: It has changed exponentially. People very much thought of the analogue world when I started the Video Surveillance Commissioner role. But now there are multiple surveillance platforms, sophisticated technology, greater privacy invasion – but greater opportunities with it.

So, it’s an exciting time to be involved.

IG: How worried should the public be about AI and facial recognition?

TP: Frankly, I don’t think the public should be worried, but I do think the government needs to ensure there’s rigorous regulation around its use, and that there is proper statutory provision.

Because we can’t live in a society that’s frightened of technology. Not only will it be bad for the system, it will be bad for moving forward.

“Part of my role is to make people feel that video surveillance is there to support them, not spy on them”

IG: The city of San Francisco has just banned facial recognition technology. Is that a sign of things to come?

TP: I think it’s a possibility. There is a court case next week where the legality of use by South Wales Police is under consideration in the High Court in Cardiff. I know that Belgium has banned its use. And there are other states in America that have it under active consideration.

But I think it’s a sign of a healthy society when it can actually oversee and legislate for this. So it’s not a bad thing, but there needs to be proper governance.

IG: Regulation often takes time to catch up with challenges created by new technologies. How hard is it for policymakers and regulators to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology?

TP: It’s extremely difficult. But the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice is sufficiently forward-thinking and flexible for there to be [appropriate] regulation as technology moves rapidly within it.

So the code talks about regulating new technology, it talks about general principles, but it also talks about legislative requirements.

So considering it was written six years ago, it was extremely forward-thinking.

IG: What’s the thought process behind launching the world’s first Surveillance Camera Day?

TP: Part of my role is to make people feel that video surveillance is there to support them, not spy on them.

This is part of the National Surveillance Camera Strategy and [my remit to create] citizen engagement. We’re opening the doors to large users and operatives of video surveillance: manufacturers, police forces. And we’re inviting people with an interest – whether civil libertarians, the general public, people who love surveillance or hate it – to take a look, pass comment and generate debate.

IG: Which control rooms will be opening their doors to the public?

TP: We’re inviting control rooms that have qualified for my certification to open their doors for visibility. Police forces have been invited to demonstrate how they use it.

We’re looking towards engaging politicians and considering the possibility of debate in parliament.

[We want] media debate and interviews. I want people to be able to say: “Actually, as a society we’ve had the conversation and we love surveillance or hate it”. So [debate is] a good thing, provided it’s an honest conversation.

IG: You’re launching ‘secure by default’ minimum requirements for manufacturers at IFSEC International on Surveillance Camera Day. What difference will that make to end users, their organisations, and the protection of personal data?

TP: I think it will make a significant difference. We think it may be a global first for this kind of guidance and approach. We believe that there is a greater burden on manufacturers to support the security of end users.

It’s simple to follow, and manufacturers will be held to account both by the public and internally. So, I think it’s a good thing, and provides an opportunity for greater security [and reassurance] that their kit [is resilient against] being hacked.

IG: How will certification work in practice?

TP: The secure by default kite mark will be recognisable to the end user, who also can acquire an end user self-certification. And next year I intend to bring out similar branding for installers and consultants.

Whether you’re a manufacturer, a purchaser or an end user, the end game will be a roadmap to branding [that proves] people know what they’re buying is good kit.

I think then I’ll have done what it says on the tin: starting to drive standards up.

On 20 June 2019 – Surveillance Camera Day – Tony Porter will deliver a keynote address on ‘secure by default’ at IFSEC International 2019, then join a panel debate on the same topic. Both will take place in the Keynote Arena, ExCeL London.

  • Attack Aware: Secure by Default keynote, Tony Porter: 10:15-10:45am, 20 June
  • Secure by default panel debate: 10:45-11:05am, 20 June

Other debate panellists will include Gary Harmer, sales director, Hikvision UK and Ireland; Jeremy Hockham, managing director, Norbain Holdings; and Patrick McBrearty, cyber crime protect officer, West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit. Justin Hollis, marketing director, Hikvision will chair.

To register go to: https://registration.n200.com/survey/1ssiw4dpq4ltz/register?actioncode=CNT9


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