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Anyone installing a surveillance camera used to have to comply with privacy laws. With time, however, it became clear that a specific law was needed to best protect citizens' privacy. This was the only way to best serve the interests of all parties: the filmer and the filmed.

The Camera Act gives a right of access. Anyone being filmed has a right to inspect the footage. This right can however only be exercised if the footage has been actually recorded. To exercise this right, a reasoned request to the controller is sufficient. However, the request must contain sufficiently detailed information to precisely locate the images in question.

More info via this link ( only for Belgium ) :

But, what about surveillance cameras installed by the government ?

Certain European countries such as the Netherlands ( absolute leader ), Belgium, Germany and Austria are packed with surveillance cameras. They are also present in other EU countries albeit to a lesser extent.

As a matter of principle, the government is also subject to GDPR legislation and the Privacy Act, but in terms of surveillance cameras, there is a gap in that area. And, anything not regulated by law is allowed.

Check via this link how many surveillance cameras there are in your municipality ( for Belgium only ). The list is neither current nor complete but gives an idea of how many there were in 2017. Feel free to double those numbers.

France voted a law on 17 March 2023 allowing the installation of AI cameras. These are capable of recognizing suspicious behavior. Among other things, they can spot abandoned luggage and trigger alarms should there be a sudden rush of people.

Some 40 European MPs have warned in an open letter that, with this law France would set a precedent of surveillance never seen before in Europe under the pretext of the Summer Olympics . Some NGOs, including France's La Quadrature du Net and international groups such as Amnesty International and Access Now, also pointed out the dangers of these cameras. To no avail. The law is a reality.

A similar law is on the government table in Belgium. A warned man is worth two.

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