Authorities to install over 2,000 CCTV cameras with potential facial recognition technology to enhance public safety in HK

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Picture for illustration purpose only.

11th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) Authorities in Hong Kong have announced plans to install more than 2,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras across the city. Law enforcement agencies have indicated that the first batch of cameras could be installed as early as next month. Furthermore, they believe that the final number of cameras may exceed 2,000 and have not ruled out the possibility of incorporating facial recognition technology. Authorities have emphasised that citizens need not worry, as all measures will strictly adhere to existing legislation.

The primary purpose of these 2,000 CCTV cameras will be to monitor and deter criminal activities in various high-risk areas across the city. The initial installation phase will commence next month with 615 cameras, aiming for the completion of the full installation by the end of the year. These cameras will be strategically positioned on lampposts, government buildings, and other locations. Given Hong Kong’s densely populated urban landscape, law enforcement agencies consider this initial deployment to be a foundational step, with the potential for future expansion.

Authorities often draw comparisons with Singapore, as both cities face similar circumstances. Presently, Singapore has over 90,000 CCTV cameras in operation, with plans to increase this number to over 200,000 by 2030. Considering the decline in traditional crimes, excluding fraud cases, in Hong Kong last year, the necessity of installing CCTV cameras on such a scale will be carefully evaluated.

While facial recognition technology remains a possibility, law enforcement agencies assure the public that concerns are unwarranted and that all measures will strictly adhere to existing legislation. The retention period of captured footage will be determined by referencing practices implemented in various jurisdictions. Regarding the placement of signage indicating video recording, the department has stated that consultations with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data will be sought.