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Právo: Thousands of cameras watch people in Czech towns

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Prague, Dec 22 (CTK) – Thousands of security cameras have been installed in Czech towns and along motorways, but politicians are considering increasing their number even more in reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, daily Pravo writes yesterday.
Terrorism is waking up “the Big Brother” since the exorbitant use of camera-monitoring systems at public places infringes upon people’s privacy, the paper says hinting at George Orwell’s cult dystopian novel 1984.
The Czech Republic lacks a detailed law to regulate the use of security cameras, former MP and expert in privacy protection Oldrich Kuzilek said.
“This is a serious problem that cameras are scanning the movement of all inhabitants, innocent people who have done nothing wrong, and despite that the police act against them, which is at variance with the constitution… This is naturally the fight between the protection of privacy and the protection of society against dangers,” Kuzilek told Pravo.
He added that the Constitutional Court might deal with this matter if someone turned to it.
It is strange that even rank-and-file police have access to the data collected by security cameras, while they should be available only to “super-special forces” or basically to intelligence services, Kuzilek pointed out.
The Interior Ministry should make it clear how the cameras are used and what happens with the collected data, he added.
In the capital of Prague, the closed-circuit television (CCTV) or the video surveillances system includes almost 2000 cameras: those built up by the capital city (969) and the cameras integrated into the metropolitan system, such as local systems of particular districts and selected cameras of the Prague Transport Company and the Technical Communications Authority, City Hall spokesman Vit Hofman told Pravo.
“The recordings are preserved by the Czech and municipal police in compliance with the law on personal data protection,” he added.
The cameras help prevent crime in the streets and protect heritage sights. The Prague emergency staff use the camera system to solve extraordinary situations, for instance, during floods, Pravo writes.
Moreover, video recordings from “traffic cameras” are available on the portal, which enables drivers as well as rescuers and firefighters to avoid traffic jams.
Security cameras are also monitoring motorways .
Transport Minister Dan Tok (ANO) has said on the public Czech Television (CT) that if a lorry were kidnapped in the Czech Republic, the local police would know where the lorry was driving thanks to the video surveillance cameras.
“The toll system is able to find where a lorry was driving quite precisely, according to its number plate. Security forces, including both Czech and foreign intelligence services within international cooperation have access to these data,” Tok said.
The video surveillance system works continuously, It is able to trace a stolen car by comparing its number plate with the database of stolen cars, Pravo says.
The Prague close-circuit cameras monitor traffic and protect heritage sights, for instance, the statues on the 14th-century Charles Bridge, the oldest preserved bridge in Prague, against vandalism. The violation of their protective zone is automatically reported to the nearest police station, the paper adds.

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