Camera removed from above toilet cubicle at Cork McDonald's branch following complaint

Camera removed from above toilet cubicle at Cork McDonald's branch following complaint
Mc Donald's, Douglas, Cork. Picture; David Creedon / Anzenberger

A CORK branch of McDonald's has removed a CCTV camera from over a toilet cubicle after a complaint was made to the Data Protection Commission.

The camera was located above the door of the cubicle in the male toilets in the McDonald's branch in Douglas.

Following the complaint, and communication with the office of the Data Protection Commission, the camera was turned off from June 24.

The complaint was made last November by a Cork man who was concerned about the location of the cameras.

In correspondence seen by The Echo, the office of the Data Protection Commission wrote to the complainant: "With regard to CCTV, this office advises all data controllers such as McDonald’s that in implementing the use of a CCTV system, a balance must be struck between the legitimate privacy considerations of the individual (both staff and customers) and the legitimate interests of an organisation to protect its interests. 

"The use of CCTV must be justified as a necessary and proportionate measure to achieve a defined purpose or purposes. Any use of CCTV - particularly in areas such as toilets - needs to satisfy a test of proportionality if it is to be considered as meeting the requirements of data protection legislation."

The correspondence continued: “This is not to say that CCTV cameras placed in toilet areas always fall foul of data protection legislation.

McDonald’s, Douglas, Cork. Picture; David Creedon / Anzenberger
McDonald’s, Douglas, Cork. Picture; David Creedon / Anzenberger

“This office has conducted inspections of varying premises of data controllers where the cameras in question were justified and proportionate in the toilet areas for valid security reasons such as criminal behaviour and vandalism. Data controllers must obviously not have cameras pointing in the direction of cubicles or urinals and they must justify the implementation of the CCTV system with a log of incidents which had previously occurred to ensure all other avenues are exhausted prior to the implementation of CCTV cameras in such a sensitive area such as the toilet areas.

“While McDonald’s Douglas did inform us that it had an incident three years previously, it was unable to provide this office with sufficient evidence that the CCTV cameras in the toilet areas were necessary and proportionate in the circumstances.”

The complainant also highlighted concerns about a McDonald’s branch near Dublin Airport, which had CCTV cameras at the doors into the toilet area. When contacted by the commission, the outlet replied to advise that the two cameras had been removed. The complainant has been told the commission will continue to liaise with McDonald’s in relation to the operation of CCTV at the Dublin eatery.

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “The installation of security equipment was to deter acts of vandalism and other anti-social behaviour within the restaurant toilets. 

"Signage was displayed to alert customers to the presence of the cameras. A decision was taken to remove the equipment from McDonald’s Douglas restaurant in June 2020.”

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