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CCTV Video Storage Best Practices

CCTV Video Storage Best Practices
November 10, 2022
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Businesses have long relied on closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems to combat criminal activity. Over the past decade, a massive surge in home CCTV camera installations implies that more footage is being caught now than ever. According to TAdvisor, the home video surveillance camera market for 2021 was estimated at  72 million units. With so many cameras online these days, it's hardly surprising that privacy laws keep having to play catch up.

Privacy laws, such as GDPR, have been developed to protect the interests of those being monitored and provide guidelines for CCTV operators within which to maneuver. 

US Privacy Laws Governing the Storage of CCTV Footage

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an important component of EU privacy law and has significantly influenced US privacy law. California has led the way in the US, establishing consumer data protection standards similar to data protection laws adopted by the GDPR. Over 35 US states have recently followed suit by passing legislation or are considering consumer privacy legislation.

As a rule of thumb, businesses using CCTV systems should conduct their operations with complete transparency, ensuring:

  • Minimal collection of personal information (captured via license plates, faces etc.)
  • Secure storage and limited access points
  • Processes for responding to requests for access
  • Completed impact studies before installing or upgrading CCTV systems

What Government Mandates Surround CCTV Footage? 

While no comprehensive legislation exists for recording footage on business or personal footage, some industries have related mandates that must be followed. For example, companies operating in cannabis, gaming, and even infrastructure and banking, are compelled by the government to record and preserve CCTV footage for a specified amount of time. In New York, for instance, the ATM Safety Act stipulates that footage must be retained for a minimum of 45 days which is applicable for any business that operates an ATM on site.

What Government Mandates Surround CCTV Footage? 

How Long Do CCTV Cameras Keep Recordings?

CCTV footage is generally stored for 90 days to a year, and older recordings are automatically deleted. Cameras offer various amounts of storage on device and many send video to the cloud to provide additional memory for videos taken over long periods of time.  Each business should consider their memory needs before purchasing a camera. The camera model, capacity, frames, resolution, audio, and chosen storage method all impact storage capacity.  

Other factors are the application used for the security camera storage, the number of cameras in the system which operate on digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR), additional devices installed, the recording schedule, and any associated Government regulations regarding footage storage.

Current CCTV Video Storage Methods

Local Storage Security Camera

Modern IP cameras may have local onboard CCTV video storage. This is an improvement on older systems where external DVR devices processed analog data at the recorder or where NVR devices encrypted and processed data at the IP camera to store video footage.

This method of storing CCTV video recordings poses difficulties in sharing and accessing footage remotely. If the device's hard drive is damaged, data could be lost. On the plus side, recordings need not be sent across networks, and connectivity is inconsequential. In the past getting power and connectivity to a device was challenging but will more wireless solutions and innovations like solar powered energy sources, local storage is not as heavily relied upon as it was just a decade ago.

Solid state drives (SSD) 

One of the most desirable current forms of CCTV video storage are SSDs, which have no moving parts and can store months of footage. They are hardier than a traditional drive, meaning they last longer.


Although the file size of CCTV video footage is often large, it can still usually be transmitted through the network to the cloud, reducing the need to access device storage which can be time consuming depending on camera location. 

While connectivity is required to get video stored to the cloud, there is no risk of losing footage due to a disaster like fire or water damage. Modern IP cameras generally come with cloud storage, a popular option because of security, cost, and the ability to adjust IT resources to meet variable demand. 

Hybrid cloud solutions 

Local storage may be necessary for situations where the network is unreliable  or bandwidth is limited, and large video files transmissions are difficult. Local storage is a handy workaround in these instances. Businesses and individuals prefer the contingency offering that increases the likelihood of video footage being available no matter if challenges are presented.

Do You Need to Erect Signs for CCTV?

Do You Need to Erect Signs for CCTV?

Once a CCTV system is established, privacy laws specify the erecting of signs to inform people they are being filmed. These should clarify that CCTV is in operation and be prominently displayed. It should also be explained why this data is being collected.

Privacy measures should ensure CCTV is excluded from toilets and changing rooms. In exceptional instances, monitoring such private areas would have to be justified, and it would have to be made clear that those entering were being filmed.

Using CCTV to monitor or discipline staff without warning flouts privacy laws. The reasons for installing a CCTV system have to be explained. Moreover, businesses should consider their limitations regarding what should be recorded—this may affect where cameras are installed. For example, it may not be necessary for worker lounges or other areas that are "off the clock" to be monitored.

What Is The Law Surrounding CCTV?  

If an organization’s CCTV captures images/footage beyond your property boundaries (such as your neighbors' property or public streets and footpaths) your system use is subject to data protection laws. 

What Is The Law Surrounding CCTV?  

Can Anyone Ask to See CCTV Footage?

In addition to limiting the quantity of data captured, the CCTV operator's responsibility is to guarantee data security. Only management and individuals who require it to accomplish their job roles should have access.

Those wanting to see CCTV footage have the right to access it and can make a written or verbal request to the system's owner for copies of their personal data. The request should explain that the applicant is requesting information held about them under the data protection law. CCTV systems must allow the operator to retrieve stored footage for this purpose. Third parties should be redacted from the footage.

Ensure CCTV Compliance With Sighthound Redactor

Compliance with data security laws and safe CCTV video storage is a cinch with Sighthound Redactor. Thanks to computer vision, machine learning, and AI, Sighthound offers a functional, quick, user-friendly video redaction system. No prior experience with redaction or editing software is needed to enable the redaction of faces and license plates.

If you want to continue learning more, check out our post on the best practices for video redaction or start a free trial with Sighthound Redactor.

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