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An Example of Something Rotten

I have a customer, a large business in Copenhagen with 20 cameras.  (A mix between older analogue and the very latest network cameras operated by a Geovision real-time recording card…(pauses)..in case you wanted to know).

They are busy and take a lot of cash payments.   One morning at 4.00 a.m., two masked men broke in, stole the CCTV system (That was securely placed behind lock and key), two other computers they thought might be connected to the CCTV system,  and about 1,000,000 kroner in cash from the safe.  They knew where the key to the safe was kept  (so obviously someone with inside information).  If they hadn’t know this information, they would never have found the key.  The thieves took their time.   Unbeknown to them we had recently installed a separate, covert surveillance system to watch the actual CCTV system due to unexplained outages.  This system was untouched and provided exceptional images of the two men with very distinguishing features.

The police were given the evidence and informed as to what had happened.  As of now, 3 months after the event, the police have not asked a single member of staff a single question.  The video of the this robbery is, more likely than not, lying in a folder somewhere gathering some dust.  The manager of this business is exasperated.  On the one hand, he would like to call a journalist and give them the story but his corporate hands are tied in that regard.    He just cannot understand why the police have done nothing at all.  The video recording which, of course, he has a copy of, could have/could be used to identify the two criminals.

What can he do now?  Your instant reaction would be to catch these men and post the video clip on YouTube but, as a goldsmith in Århus found out, this is against the law in Denmark.


The goldsmith experienced a violent robbery, placed the video surveillance clips on YouTube and  the TV station TV2 decided to show excerpts from the clip on national television.  The criminals were caught as a direct result of these clips being shown and viewers recognizing the criminals.  The really ironic part is that the police chief from East Jutlands police force is quoted as saying ‘Before, we said it was good that TV 2 showed the images.’  So we might have been facing a situation where the real victim of the crime, the goldsmith, was actually arrested by the police force who thought what he did was the right and helpful thing.

Here’s  another similar case against Coolshops, who posted video evidence on their web site following the seventh break-in.


If you do it, be prepared for a possible kr 10,000 fine and up to 4 months in prison.  The law says that only the police can send evidence onwards for publication elsewhere.

The law in Danish can be found here: http://www.datatilsynet.dk/lovgivning/persondataloven/

And in English here: http://www.datatilsynet.dk/english/the-act-on-processing-of-personal-data/

Look to Section 6A for the relevant details on video surveillance .  I can see possible loop holes with regard to warning signs stating that if you enter the premises you agree to your images being used for whatever reason.  Coolshops had these signs and eventually the court saw sense.


Ironically, yet again, Coolshops won the case based on the fact that it wasn’t actually possible to recognize the culprit anyway and not because of their creative warning signs.

I agree with Coolshops director, Jacob Risgaard, that the law is absurd and I feel it should be changed with regard to CCTV images of criminal activity.  The police are understaffed to cope with these ‘smaller’ crimes.   We might not recognize a criminal by a slightly grainy CCTV image but his mother or his father or his work colleagues would.  Let’s use the power of this web generation to catch these criminals.  Let’s just make it that bit harder to get away scot-free.

Let’s have a relaxing of this law for video demonstrating clearly criminal acts.  There could be a provision that the one being filmed has the right to file a complaint with the police if  he/she feels it is unfair; thereafter providing details of their address, social security number and a signed confession.

I am all for the right to privacy but if you decide to commit a crime then it is absolutely absurd that the evidence of this crime can not be used, in any way, to catch you.

So back to my question of ‘What can he do now?’.  Well right now, legally, nothing.

Categories: Opinion
  1. olekassow
    February 21, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Hi Duncan
    Some extremely good points there. It drives me mad thinking about the obvious things we could do to prevent burglaries. If they (the legislators) would simply wise up and relax some of that counter-productive legislation, I’m sure we could improve on the similarly appalling situation described in this article from last week: “Vi køber alarmer forgæves” http://politiken.dk/tjek/bolig/hjemmet/article905313.ece

  2. February 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

    The key has to be a combination of preventative measures. I think the threat of their images being offered up for the world to see should definitely be one of them.

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