Korean Hotels to Minimize Use of Security Cameras

By Kim Tong-hyung

More than 500 hotels in Korea have agreed to self-impose restrictions on the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at their properties to help ease the concerns of customers and employees over privacy.

Following a meeting of general managers in Kyongju, South Kyongsang Province, the Korea Hotel Association (KHA) announced new guidelines on Monday, which mandate hotels to keep guest rooms, food-and-beverages outlets, restrooms and most of their other in-house facilities camera-free.

CCTV cameras could only be used in certain areas, such as entrance lobbies, casinos and emergency exits.

The KHA, established in 1996, now has 540 hotels as members, including most of the major five-star properties here such as the Shilla, InterContinental, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotels.

"We agreed that the cameras will not be installed at any place where the privacy of our customers or employees could be compromised. The idea is to simply eliminate the use of cameras for purposes other than crime monitoring and emergency situations," said Kim Kyu-jin, from the KHA's public relations bureau.

However, the association failed to clearly determine how long hotels would hold data collected through their security cameras before destroying it.

Hotels will be required to put up warnings to notify the location and purpose of CCTV cameras installed at their properties. They will also not use cameras with zoom or movement functions.

Hotels will not be allowed to replay or reveal information gathered through their cameras to a third party unless it is used in a criminal investigation.

"The security concerns have been less at most luxury hotels, where they control their own monitoring systems, but since smaller hotels often outsource their security solutions, we need a consistent guideline on the use of CCTV cameras," said Kim.

Kim said the association plans to regularly inspect the hotels to see if they are abiding by the self-imposed rules.