Credit: Gript

Government to legalise bodycams, drones & other recording devices for gardaí

The Government is in the process of legalising the use of body cams for gardaí, and intends to give gardaí powers to use other recording devices, including phones, cameras and drones in the line of duty.

The Garda Síochána Digital Recording Bill which is currently underway will be brought before cabinet tomorrow by Justice Minister Helen McEntee, though the measures are unlikely to be signed into law until next year.

At the same time, Deputy Cathal Crowe, a Fianna Fáil TD representing Clare, has called for an addition to the law to be made barring the general public from filming Gardaí back.

The law, which will allow for mobile CCTV cameras and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) to be installed on Garda vehicles, will also allow Gardaí to access other parties’ CCTV as a live feed and acquire ANPR data from other organisations’ cameras.

Fianna Fáil as well as previous Justice Ministers have called for drones to be used in law enforcement, and last year during the early covid lockdown a county council was found to have breached GDPR laws after using drones to monitor individuals and ensure they were adhering to the government restrictions..

Various associations representing gardaí have been calling for years for their members to be allowed to wear bodycams. However, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has pushed back against the policy, calling it “invasive and unnecessary”.

ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said that while technology has big potential for crime prevention, it also has a large potential risk for use in mass surveillance, and that a balance must be found.

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