Cámaras de vigilancia en colegios: ¿se pueden usar para controlar a los alumnos?

The use of surveillance cameras in schools is increasingly common. The presence of minors in educational centers means that special care must be taken with them, which is why many centers are already considering the installation of video surveillance systems. Now, how should these security systems be managed? What precautions must be taken? We will answer these and other questions in this article. Read on!

surveillance cameras in schools

Applicable regulations of the GDPR regarding video surveillance in schools, colleges and institutes

The entry into force in 2018 of the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD) at the European level has led to important changes in Spanish legislation.

In these cases, we must not only comply with the provisions of the GDPR, we must also pay special attention to the Organic Law on Data Protection, its implementing Regulations and the instruction on surveillance 1/2006 issued by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD).

You have to take into account that in a school we are going to record:

  • Parents who bring their children to the center.
  • Students, many of them minors.
  • Teachers, janitors and other professionals for whom the school or institute is their workplace.

All of this is important to take into account in order to fully understand the limits that the legislation imposes on video surveillance in these cases.

Here we start from the assumption that recording can only be done for security-related purposes, always being a proportional measure with respect to the infraction that is want to avoid.


Highlights about recording of minors


We talked before about the principle of proportionality. This means that video surveillance will only be possible if there is no other means that is less harmful to privacy that allows the same result to be obtained.

You will understand it better with an example. A few months ago, a Swedish school was fined €9,000 for using security cameras to monitor student attendance in class. Although the center had the consent of the students, the Swedish data protection agency has understood that the principle of proportionality is not respected here, since class attendance can be controlled in a less harmful way.


ARCH Rights

The cameras of an educational center can capture images of many people and all of them have, with respect to the images captured, what are known as ARCO rights .

This implies that the owner has the right of access to the images in which they appear, to request their rectification or deletion, right of limitation, portability and opposition.


Special care with images

Most of the videos captured by the cameras of an educational center will collect the image of minors, so we must be even more careful when dealing with this type of file.


In what situationCan video surveillance cameras be installed in schools?

In most cases surveillance cameras in schools are installed to improve school security.

In this way, it is about having a better control of students who may be skipping classes, students who enter and leave the center without permission or even to detect problems such as bullying.


How should surveillance cameras be installed in schools or institutes?

In these cases it is advisable to first carry out an analysis of the risks that having to face the processing of personal data derived from the images captured by the cameras entails for the school of vigilance. This will allow us to know if the measure really compensates or not.

If it is considered a good idea, then you have to think about the best place to install the devices.

It must be taken into account that the AEPD itself highlights the need for the video surveillance area to be the minimum essential and limited to public spaces.


Location of surveillance cameras in colleges or schools

In the halls

This is the most common placement zone and does not usually cause conflicts. These cameras allow teachers to ensure that there is no problem outside the classroom when they are not present.


To watch at recess

The recess must always be supervised by teachers, but it is understood that in these cases the use of video surveillance can be useful to protect the best interests of minors.

The playground is usually a large area in which students have more freedom, so in many cases it can produce situations that may affect the moral, psychological and even physical integrity of the students. Through the use of cameras in the courtyard, we try to limit these situations and have evidence to identify the culprits in case something happens.


Surveillance cameras in classrooms

The use of cameras in classrooms is rather controversial. It is estimated that using them to control students would be disproportionate, since in class they have the continuous supervision of a teacher. In other words, the use in class would not be proportional since there is already another form of control that is less harmful to your privacy.

It has been debated on occasion whether the installation in classes would be justified as a measure to prevent harassment of teachers, but for the moment both legislation and jurisprudence and the doctrine are contrary to this possibility.


Surveillance cameras in the bathrooms

On a previous occasion we talked about the legality of using spy cameras in the bathroom and we determined that this is totally illegal.

In our legal system there is no reason to justify being able to take images in a bathroom, whether public or private. Much less if it is a place frequented by minors.

On this issue, the AEPD has indicated that cameras cannot be installed in places that are specially protected by the right to privacy. This includes bathrooms in a school, but also changing rooms and those in thethat the captured images may affect the image or private life of students, as occurs in gyms.

In short, a good use of surveillance cameras in schools implies limiting their use to the corridors, the accesses to the center and the patio.


Should I or should I not put indicative signs ?

The law tells us that when we are going to capture someone's image using a video camera we must have their consent.

In the case of minors, the authorization for the collection and processing of personal data must come from the parents or guardians, although from the age of 14 it is the students themselves who have the capacity to give or not your consent.

With the number of people who come to an educational center every day, it is clear that obtaining everyone's consent would be difficult. For this reason, in this case the rule replaces the need for express consent by the installation of posters that warn of the recording.

The objective of the poster is to inform those affected that they are being recorded and safeguard their rights by informing them of the entity responsible for processing the images (it will be the educational center) and the physical address where they can exercise their ARCO rights if they wish.

It is best to have several signs located right in those areas where video surveillance is carried out.


How many cameras surveillance system in schools should I install?

This depends a lot on the type of educational center in question and its size. As a minimum, one camera must be installed at each of the access doors to the center, taking care that these only capture images of the school and never of the street.

Then you can install one or two per corridor depending on its length. In the case of the patio, the number of cameras to install depends a lot on its distribution and its surface.

You have to take into account that there will always be blind spots that will remain unmonitored, but if you invest in surveillance cameras in schools, it is advisable to install them enough to have images that can be useful in case something happens.


Boundary between security and personal privacy

As always when the subject of video surveillance is discussed, security and personal privacy come into conflict.

It is true that there are many people who, aware that they are not misbehaving, favor the use of cameras almost anywhere. But there are also people who do not develop criminal or inappropriate behaviors and still do not want to live with the continuous feeling of being watched.

What our legislation seeks is to find the balance point so that the recordings can serve as a means to increase security but without violating anyone's privacy or intruding on it. less possible.

That is why respect for proportionality is so important in the case of surveillance cameras in schools.

In the school, students develop their educational life, but also a large part of their social life, so special care must be taken. This is what leads to limiting the presence of cameras to crowded and public places to detect possible security problems without harming the privacy of students.


What to do in case of detecting suspicious behavior of the students?

Let's imagine that through the cameras we have seen something strange and we begin to suspect, for example, that a student is selling drugs to other students in the playground.

A school can investigate, but only up to a point. You cannot exercise constant surveillance over a student because there is suspicion. But you can review other videos in which it appears to see if there are signs of infringement and notify teachers so that they canstay tuned in case you see anything strange.

If it is concluded that an infraction has been committed, the school will take the corresponding disciplinary measures and, if it is a serious case, it will put the evidence available to the police for the authorities to take charge.


Guidelines on how to manage security material well

Having cameras improves security in the educational center, but at the same time raises the problem of how to carry out the processing of personal data. Therefore, it is convenient to be well prepared and informed so as not to infringe the law in this field.

It is essential to adopt a series of security measures that guarantee that personal data will be properly processed.

To begin with, you need to limit access to images . Only those people who are expressly authorized to do so by the school may have access. In order to control access, it is a good idea for each of the authorized parties to have her personal password.

The room where the recording center is located must also have restricted access. The possibility of installing a surveillance camera at the entrance to this room could even be considered to verify that only those who can access it.

With regard to those who have access to the images, it is essential that they sign the corresponding confidentiality contract and are aware of the repercussions that failure to comply with said duty of confidentiality could have. confidentiality, both for them and for the people whose personal information is disclosed.

In the case of cameras in schools, it is not necessary to notify the AEPD of their installation, but in the event of a security breach, they must be informed of the incident within a maximum period of time 72 hours.

As an exception, communication will not be necessary if measures can be taken immediately to minimize the damage to the rights of the affected persons.


Frequently asked questions about surveillance cameras in schools

Can video surveillance cameras be placed in the changing rooms?

No. A locker room is a place considered especially protected against conduct that may imply a violation of the right to privacy.

As with bathrooms, there is no reason to justify having a camera in a locker room. In fact, installation constitutes a crime.


Can cameras be placed in teacher break rooms?

The break room is a private area that only teachers can access. Given its characteristics, it is normal for this area to discuss both personal and professional issues and make comments about the students.

This means that the rest room also has special protection and it cannot be controlled through video surveillance.


Should the installation be done by us or by external companies? Which is better?

The management of an educational center has to attend to multiple problems derived from its activity on a daily basis, so it should not cover more than it can.

The principal may know a lot about running a school, but he does not have to be an expert in security or control the regulations on data protection. Therefore, it is much more advisable to leave the installation of surveillance cameras in schools in the hands of professionals.

This is the only way to ensure that the installation will be correct and no one's rights will be violated, respecting the principle of proportionality while improving security


Is it legal to install surveillance cameras in schools to monitor students?

Yes, it is legal to install surveillance cameras in schools, but with certain conditions and restrictions. These installations are generally made with the goal of ensuring the safety of students, staff, and facilities. However, it is essential to comply with the privacy and data protection regulations of the country in question. In addition, it is essential that students, staff, and parents are informed about the existence of these cameras, the purpose of their use, and the duration of storage of the recordings.


What do data protection laws say about recording minors in an educational setting?

Data protection laws, such as the GDPR in Europe, set strict guidelines on recording minors. These laws stipulate that recording of minors can only be done for a legitimate and clearly defined purpose, such as security. In addition, schools must ensure that they have adequate security measures in place to protect recordings from unauthorized access. It is also essential that parents or legal guardians are informed of any recording involving minors and, in many cases, their explicit consent is required before any recording is made.


In what specific places in the school can these cameras be placed?

Surveillance cameras in schools should be placed where security is a concern and do not violate the privacy of individuals. This includes entrances and exits, corridors, patios, common areas and perimeters of the school. It is not legal to place cameras in restrooms, locker rooms, nurse's offices, or any other location where students or staff may have a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is crucial to carry out a prior evaluation to determine the most appropriate and effective places to install the cameras, taking into account both security needs and respect for privacy.


How can you ensure student privacy when there are cameras?

Guaranteeing the privacy of students with cameras in operation is critical. First, the cameras should not be located in private areas, such as bathrooms or changing rooms. Second, access to recordings should be restricted to authorized personnel trained in data protection only. Recordings must be stored securely and, according to regulations, for a limited time before being deleted. In addition, the school must implement technical and organizational measures to prevent unauthorized access, such as encryption and strong password systems.


Is it necessary to inform parents or guardians about the installation of these cameras?

Yes, it is essential to inform parents or legal guardians about the installation of surveillance cameras in the school. This communication ensures transparency and allows parents to know the measures that are being taken to guarantee the safety of their children. In addition, depending on local law, the school may be required to obtain the explicit consent of the parents or guardians before recording minors. Communication should be clear about the purpose of the cameras, where they are located, and how the recordings will be handled and stored.


What benefits are sought when installing surveillance cameras in schools?

The installation of surveillance cameras in schools seeks several benefits. The main one is to improve security, keeping an eye on possible threats or unwanted activities, and acting as a deterrent against acts of vandalism or inappropriate behavior. It also allows better control of access to the school, preventing the entry of unauthorized persons. Also, in case of incidents, the recordings can be useful to clarify facts and responsibilities. Finally, by conveying a sense of security, they can increase peace of mind for students, staff, and parents.


Is there any psychological risk to students from being constantly monitored?

Yes, there is a psychological risk associated with constant monitoring of students. Continuous surveillance can generate anxiety, stress and the feeling of being watched all the time, which could affect the spontaneity, creativity and natural behavior of students. In the long term, this could translate into decreased self-esteem, self-confidence, and decision-making ability. It is vital to balance security needs with the emotional and psychological well-being of students, ensuring that they do not feel invaded in their personal space.


How are the recordings stored and who has access to them?

Recordings from school surveillance cameras are generally stored on secure servers or cloud storage systems protected with security measures such as encryption. Access to these recordings is strictly limited to authorized personnel, which may include school officials, security officers or, in certain cases, police entities. It is crucial that the school establishes clear protocols about who can access the recordings and under what circumstances, thus guaranteeing the privacy and security of the information.


How long are camera recordings kept at the school?

Recording retention time varies based on school policies and local law. However, for reasons of privacy and data protection, recordings are usually not kept indefinitely. They are generally kept for a certain period, which can range from days to months, after which they are automatically deleted, unless they are necessary for investigations or legal proceedings. It is essential that schools adhere to relevant data protection regulations when storing and deleting recordings.


Can a father request to see the recordings if he suspects an incident with his son? </ h3>

Yes, a parent or guardian has the right to request to view recordings if he suspects that an incident involving his child has occurred, as long as he has a valid and substantiated reason. However, access is not automatic. Schools and colleges have protocols and policies regarding the disclosure of this type of material. In many cases, before allowing access, the faces of other students will be blurred or anonymized to protect their privacy. Furthermore, any such request must be handled with the utmost confidentiality and discretion to protect everyone involved.


What security measures are taken to prevent hacking or unauthorized access to the cameras?

To prevent hacking or unauthorized access, schools and colleges adopt multiple security measures. These may include the use of advanced encryption systems, strong firewalls, two-factor authentication, and complex passwords. In addition, the cameras' software and hardware are regularly updated to protect against recent vulnerabilities. The networks on which the cameras operate are also monitored for any suspicious activity. It is essential that educational institutions work with security experts to ensure that their systems are protected against the latest threats.


How can you ensure that cameras are not used for inappropriate or malicious purposes?

To ensure that cameras are not used for inappropriate purposes, it is essential to establish clear policies and protocols around their use. This includes defining specific locations where they can be installed, restricting access to recordings to authorized personnel only, and setting guidelines for how and when images can be viewed. Regular training for staff will ensure that they understand and follow these policies. In addition, regular monitoring and audits, along with sanctions for those who violate policies, will helpensure the appropriate use of cameras in the school setting.