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Ask Habitat: Are Security and Privacy Mutually Exclusive?

New York City

When Security and Privacy Collide
May 11, 2015

HABITAT ANSWERS: A co-op/condo security policy has to take into consideration three issues: employee gossip, data security, and data access. The second issue is maintaining the security of your collected data. So what exactly does it entail? For most buildings, it means protecting paper documents, security-camera footage, and electronic key-fob data.

Paper documents. Residents' personal information should be kept to a minimum, and Social Security numbers should be stripped from them. Files should be kept in a locked cabinet, preferably within a locked closet or room; many buildings keep them off-site, at the management company's office.

Security camera footage. This is trickier — as opposed to the real-time feed doormen typically monitor for emergency situations — because it can be stored in different ways. Nowadays, security camera footage is mostly stored on a DVR or a remote communal server. None of this should be readily available, even to the board members. When a report is made, footage could be made available to a third party, such as the management company, which should notify the board or the police if needed.

Key fobs. To physically secure the key fob data on DVRs or computers, experts recommend locating the equipment in a basement room that's locked. While this need not literally be a basement room, such devices should never be in an unlocked environment. Many buildings keep them in the super's office, which may not be kept locked, creating a security risk. Regardless of who can access it, your data should be password protected.

How often security camera footage gets erased is another aspect of policy. Do you really need to keep more than two years' worth of footage, as some systems are capable of doing? Commonly, it gets erased after 30, 60, or 90 days.

Ultimately, security and privacy can co-exist. As long as you share information about systems protocols with your residents, there's no reason that security and privacy have to be mutually exclusive.


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