Privacy concerns over bar's toilet photos

By Shelley Robinson

Dux Live manager Ross Herrick, pictured in this file photo, says the cameras in the bar's toilets will stay. File photo / Geoff Sloan
Dux Live manager Ross Herrick, pictured in this file photo, says the cameras in the bar's toilets will stay. File photo / Geoff Sloan

Posting photos on Facebook of two men allegedly vandalising a toilet may have landed a Christchurch live music venue in hot water.

The Dux Live put photos on Facebook on Monday night of two men in the toilets.

But privacy lawyer Kathryn Dalziel said the Dux Live crossed the line by placing the photos on Facebook.

"If the purpose [of having CCTV] is to help police, then the purpose is not to put them up on Facebook but to give it to the police,'' said Ms Dalziel.

She said there could be a breach of privacy if they did not use the CCTV for the purpose it was collected and also were also risking a defamation claim from the two men.

"They had better be 100 per cent that these two did what they say,'' she said.

Dux Live general manager Ross Herrick said the two men had committed vandalism by allegedly taking frames off a picture on the wall.

He had not reported it to the police because the matter was "trivial.'' But he put the images on Facebook to name and shame the men, he said.

The damage was around $12 to $15.

He was sick of vandalism at the Dux.

"But it's not about the money - it's about the blatant vandalism,'' said Mr Herrick.

But the two men could take a case to the Privacy Commissioner or take legal action against the Dux for defamation, Ms Dalziel said.

The Dux posted this on Facebook with the photos: "Does anyone know this clever bugger? We're sick of a ... holes trying to trash our stuff. Please let us know and we'll love you long time.''

However, there was a backlash to the post on Facebook, with many people angry that there were surveillance cameras in the toilet. There was support as well.

The Dux replied by saying cameras were in the toilets for patrons' safety.

Said one critic on Facebook: "Cool thanks for posting this I will no longer enter or recommend the Dux ... I do not like the slippery slope you have decided to cross.''

Said another: "This is revolting that you film people without consent then put pics up on facebook. Wrong on every level, shame on you.''

"So you film people while they pee ... what ever you are into. The problem here is that you have filmed these people in the toilet without consent and then put it on social network to catch the persons that you think did the damage ... my advice, take the pics down before it ends badly for you.''

Mr Herrick said the cameras were only in the men's toilets, not the women's. There was signage alerting people to the cameras.

He said the cameras were digitally "blocked'' from recording any of the "pervy bits''.

"At the urinals it is blocked from the midriff to about half way down the thigh,'' he said.

Said Ms Dalziel: "I am not against filming in general but they have to prove the tests. In this case it is to provide the information for police, make customers more safe and hold people who are committing wilful damage to account. So how does filming and putting that on Facebook help the police?''

"How am I more safe unless they have someone watching the camera at the time it is happening?''

Mr Herrick told The Star they did not have someone watching the footage as it happened, but could access the live feed from their cellphones if they chose to.

"Our staff don't have time to do that [watch cameras all night],'' he said.

"They are putting themselves in the position of being the police and they are also risking defamation - they had better be 100 per cent that the person did what they are saying,'' said Ms Dalziel.

A spokesman for the Office of the Privacy Commission said they could not comment on the Dux posting as there was a possibility the individuals in the photos may complain to the commission.

Other bars contacted by The Star yesterday said they did not have cameras in their toilets.

Be Seen and Cargo Bar manager Kelly Clark said they did not have cameras because it was "a breach of personal space''.

Fox & Ferret Riccarton manager Sophie Bennett said they did not have cameras to protect "personal boundaries''.

Mr Herrick said he would consider taking down the Facebook images if his legal advice told him to.

"But we will not remove the cameras. If we are not to put it up on Facebook so be it - but we are not taking out the cameras.''

- CHRISTCHURCH STAR

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