CCTV cameras proposed for Delhi schools again? Parents say it violates right to privacy 

The Aam Aadmi Party in 2019 stated that they would install CCTV cameras in all government schools and provide live feed of the classrooms to the parents 
Delhi government to install CCTV cameras in schools...again | Pic: EdexLive
Delhi government to install CCTV cameras in schools...again | Pic: EdexLive

Despite opposition from parents and teachers groups, the Delhi government will soon install CCTV cameras in schools, mainly government schools, and the live footage from classrooms will be shared with parents. 

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had earlier, in 2019, issued a circular stating that they would install CCTV cameras in all government schools and provide live feed of the classrooms to the parents. However, the Delhi Parents of Association and the Government School Teachers’ Association had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court regarding the same and sought for the immediate removal of CCTVs inside classrooms and destruction of the footage. 

While the Delhi government was asked to respond to the petition, the government has now decided to obtain consent from parents and guardians and only then will the parents be given secure login credentials with individual IDs and passwords to connect and see live CCTV footage. 

However, parents are concerned about the privacy of their children. They say that while they are not opposed to the installation of CCTV cameras, they have a problem with the live streaming of footage. “We don’t want anyone else to watch our children. The technology is not so developed that one parent can only watch their child, they can see the whole class,” said Aparajita Gautam, President of the Delhi Parents Association. Everyone has a right to their own privacy and such live streaming is not safe, she added. 

The government has claimed that this initiative will help in ensuring transparency and will let parents know what their kid is studying, according to reports. However, Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, through whom the petition was filed, said that this move by the government was about more than just installing CCTV cameras. “The biggest problem is the streaming of live footage. No parent should have access to another kid’s footage which is what will happen here,” he said. While explaining the potential consequences of this move, he said that there could be potential abuse as the videos could be morphed and there could be stalking as well. 

Additionally, our country doesn’t have a data protection regime yet that could protect citizens’ data. “The question of who would be the custodian of this data, where would it be stored, who would have access to it and what would they do with it, would they be monetising it, are all questions that remain unanswered,” said Dehadrai. 

While the government earlier had not planned to take consent from parents for collecting a live feed from classrooms, a report by PTI pointed out that now, only those parents will be given login credentials who have signed the consent forms. However, this will still have implications for the teachers’ and children’s privacy. “If one teacher doesn’t give consent, then how will they operationalise it? Will they shut off the camera for one period and turn it on for the other?” asked Dehadrai. Additionally, if one parent doesn’t give consent, then the recording should be stopped, he said. 

In addition to privacy concerns, the concept of being under constant surveillance could also cause potential psychological harm to children. “When someone is constantly watching you, your behaviour automatically changes and it affects your development and actions. An entire generation of kids will grow up thinking that someone is looking at them constantly,” said Dehadrai. 

The advocate also said that they are planning to move an application for urgent hearing in the Delhi High Court and bring up all these issues. 

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