Vumacam blasts JRA for challenging CCTV court ruling

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Ricky Croock, CEO of Vumacam.
Ricky Croock, CEO of Vumacam.

Ricky Croock, CEO of Vumacam, has castigated the Johannesburg Roads Agency’s (JRA’s) decision to appeal a High Court ruling that nullified the suspension of aerial and CCTV wayleave applications.

Croock says he has noted with concern an ongoing public campaign of misinformation claiming Vumacam collects personal data and sells personal data to third-parties.

Judge Bashir Vally last week ruled that the decision by JRA “to suspend the consideration of aerial and CCTV wayleave applications is declared to be unlawful and invalid”.

In its court papers, the JRA raised concerns around privacy being the reason that wayleaves should be halted, but the judge noted that “there is no dispute that Vumacam complies with the legislative prescripts set out in the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013 (POPIA) insofar as protecting an individual’s privacy rights are concerned”.

Subsequently, the judge directed the JRA to proceed with the consideration and determination of aerial and CCTV applications within seven days of the order and provide reasons to Vumacam “if the applications are, or if any individual one is, refused”.

However, yesterday it emerged that the JRA intends to challenge the ruling, a decision that has been slammed by Vumacam.

“This appeal directly impacts the rollout of cameras and infrastructure to provide critical surveillance support to SAPS, JMPD and private security companies in their crime-fighting efforts,” says Croock.

“We take the protection of data and privacy rights very seriously and have ensured significant measures to exceed not only local by-laws and regulations but also international standards on privacy.

“The JRA has no legal right to suspend decision-making on wayleaves due to data and privacy concerns and the judge comprehensively ruled on this. We have engaged extensively on the issue with the JRA but they still went to court and Johannesburg’s taxpayers are again on the hook for huge legal fees when the law is already very clear.”

Further, Croock says, Vumacam has noted with concern that there is an ongoing public campaign of misinformation despite clear communication that the company “anonymises all data and does not have any means to link footage to any individual’s personal data”.

He adds: “Vumacam built its platform based on international privacy standards that exceed POPI compliance and it provides situational awareness to curb criminal activity and to assist in medical emergencies.

“Vumacam operations are in line with all current by-laws and the necessary permissions have been granted for all operations.

“Surveys show that 98% of people are happy with the existence of Vumacam infrastructure and there is cohesive and large-scale buy-in for our service. Despite this, there seems to be more focus on misinformation than on the impact of crime on human life and the most basic right to safety.”

The latest Vumacam legal battle with authorities comes only weeks after the company promised to review all operational guidelines.

At the time, Vumacam said it was analysing current systems and assessing whether further intervention is required to ensure compliance with the newly promulgated POPI Act.

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