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August 17, 2023

All you need to know about the law on using CCTV in pharmacies

Article written by: The Veesion team
Reading time: 4 min
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The use of security cameras is subject to strict rules in France. What does the law say about using video surveillance in a pharmacy? The pharmaceutical sector is no exception. In this article, we’ll explain why this type of security system is subject to regulation, and what your rights are as a pharmacy owner.


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Why is the use of video surveillance systems regulated?

Security cameras help to limit inventory shrinkage and antisocial behaviour in pharmacies. Add Veesion software to the mix, and Artificial Intelligence dramatically improves security for pharmacies and pharmacists. However, to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected, the use of this type of security device must be regulated.

Video surveillance is used to film the inside of a pharmacy both day and night, so it records everything that goes on inside the building. This means that staff and customers entering the establishment are caught on camera. Some may consider this an invasion of privacy.

The aim of the regulations in place is to protect the data of those being filmed in public places such as pharmacies. The regulations are intended to prevent privacy abuse, including the use of images for purposes other than those provided for by law.

Detailed guide to the law on using video surveillance in pharmacies

Are you thinking about using cameras to prevent medicine theft and limit inventory shrinkage in your pharmacy? Find out more about the regulations governing the use of video surveillance in pharmacies.

Obtaining authorisation from the departmental prefect

Pharmacies are considered “places open to the public”. Any cameras installed in pharmacies must therefore be authorised by the departmental prefect.

This merely involves filling in an application form for the installation of a video surveillance system. The form can be downloaded from the Ministry of the Interior website or obtained from your local prefectural office.

The authorisation issued is valid for 5 years and is renewable (article L.252-4 of the French Internal Security Code). The person in charge of the pharmacy and the security system must then notify the prefectural office when the cameras start operating.

Informing the CNIL about the presence of cameras in your pharmacy

Under the law on the use of video surveillance in pharmacies, the pharmacy owner is required to inform the CNIL (National Commission for Data Protection and Civil Liberties) about the installation of any cameras.

This requirement enables the CNIL to review the legality of the surveillance system installed. It thus helps to ensure the protection of the personal data of customers and pharmacy staff.

Limiting the areas monitored by cameras

Surveillance cameras may be used to film the pharmacy’s walkways and product aisles, but they must not invade customers’ privacy. It is therefore against the law to install them in private spaces such as toilets.

Likewise, they cannot be used to spy on pharmacists or pharmacy staff to make sure they are performing their work correctly. However, you can protect your pharmacy from theft by positioning the surveillance camera to face the till.

The rule to knowing where you can install a camera is simple: the areas being monitored must present a real security risk. And to avoid abuse, the perimeter of these areas must be clearly defined.

Don’t forget that it’s also possible to protect the immediate surroundings of the pharmacy building by installing video protection cameras on the public highway. To go about doing this, you’ll need to inform the mayor of your municipality and obtain authorisation from the relevant public authorities (article L.251-2 of the French Internal Security Code).

Video surveillance system signage

The first rule is to provide clear and legible information about the presence of video surveillance cameras in the pharmacy.

The establishment must therefore display signs bearing the pictogram of a security camera and which include the following information:

  • Right to access recorded images and footage;
  • Purpose of the surveillance;
  • Data retention period (how long the recorded images and footage are stored);
  • Awareness of Information Technology and Civil Liberties rights;
  • The name of the Data Protection Officer:
  • The right to lodge a complaint with the CNIL and the relevant contact details.
  • Remember: transparency is the order of the day. Pharmacy staff and visitors may be filmed, but they must be informed.

    Storing recorded images and footage for a limited time only

    The data retention period for recorded images and footage is limited. As defined by the CNIL, this period is determined on a case-by-case basis, and must be specified in the authorisation order obtained from the prefectural office. It must not exceed 30 days, in accordance with article L.252-3 of the French Internal Security Code.

    Data protection and the right to access recorded images and footage

    Access to recorded images and footage must be restricted. They must not be made accessible to all pharmacy employees and customers. Only authorised persons previously specified in the authorisation from the prefectural office may, in the course of their duties, be permitted to view recorded images and footage. These authorised persons are usually security managers, security guards and the pharmacy manager.

    However, the people filmed in the pharmacy do have a right to access the recorded images. This means that they must be allowed to access any recorded images and footage in which they appear, subject to respecting the rights of third parties.

    A precise record must be kept of each recording made as well as its exact deletion/destruction date. That way, in the event of legal proceedings, the exact recording date can be provided to the public prosecutor.

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