RTL News, 4 July 2017: 'Cameras in changing rooms fitness chain Fit For Free'
"Fit For Free conducted surveillance with cameras in changing rooms in 19 branches. This is according to an investigation by RTL News. According to the gym, this was a preventive measure against theft, but experts say customer privacy has been compromised. Fit For Free says the cameras were turned off a few months ago. "This seems outrageous to me," responds Vincent Böhre of the Privacy First foundation. "People are going to behave differently anyway, even if the cameras are off. We are waiting for excesses, for images to leak out and for an employee to abuse them. We are talking about very sensitive data of people with no clothes on."
Although Fit For Free allows customers to safely store their belongings in lockers, some prefer to hang their belongings in the changing room. According to the chain, many thefts were taking place in that space and that number was reduced to zero thanks to camera surveillance in changing rooms.
On its website, Fit For Free wrote that the surveillance cameras in changing rooms "focus on hooks for coats and therefore only capture the face". After RTL News asked questions about this, this conscious text was removed. Fit For Free changed the text on its website to say that the cameras are 'never focused on the shower rooms'.
Do focus on showers
Yet at least one branch of Fit For Free had a camera aimed at the shower cubicles. Following questions from RTL News, the gym removed it, but a spokeswoman would not say why.
The Personal Data Authority received "some reports" last year from customers questioning Fit For Free's camera surveillance. "Following that, we contacted the organisation and told them what their camera surveillance had to comply with. They told us they will comply with the conditions."
The regulator did not conduct additional investigations. "We assume that a company does not lie to us," he said.
According to the authority, the company must comply with a number of conditions. For example, no undressed people may be shown in images and customers must be properly informed about camera surveillance in the changing room. Fit For Free's privacy statement and general terms and conditions make no mention of surveillance cameras in the changing room.
Customers also claim to RTL News that they were not informed of this when signing the subscription.
According to law and information society professor Gerrit-Jan Zwenne, a gym should inform customers of camera surveillance, for example by announcing it in a form and then having them sign it. "You should know something like that before you sign up for a subscription. If you only read it when you are in the room, then you are already filmed," Zwenne says.
Privacy First is strongly against Fit For Free using surveillance cameras in changing rooms. "The right to privacy also includes bodily integrity. People can no longer be themselves unconstrained," says director Böhre."
Source: https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nederland/cameras-in-kleedkamers-fitnessketen-fit-for-free , 4 July 2017. Compare Volkskrant.co.uk, Fit for Free filmed in changing rooms: http://www.volkskrant.nl/4504300/.
Privacy First believes all cameras in changing rooms should be removed immediately. Further comment by Privacy First will follow once the Personal Data Authority has published its position on the matter.
Update 5 July 2017: Duped customers can cancel their subscriptions immediately, see https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nederland/gefilmde-klant-fit-for-free-heeft-recht-op-schadevergoeding.
Listen HERE An interview with Privacy First on Radio FunX about camera surveillance in locker rooms.
Update 7 July 2017: VVD and CDA today Parliamentary questions stated about e.e.a.