Making a splash on CCTV: the security pitfalls of YouTube

A woman in a US shopping centre was caught on CCTV at the moment she learned a harsh lesson: texting while walking is not a good idea.


[EDITOR’S NOTE: The video has been taken off YouTube for violating its terms of service.]

Security staff at the mall then decided to share the video on YouTube and at the time of writing, it has garnered over 1.6 million hits and been featured on a number of news channels around the world.

OK, you can see the funny side of this and who hasn’t done something stupid that they could laugh about later? But from a security and loss prevention point of view, what are the ramifications of this incident? Scratch beneath the surface and it starts to become apparent what they are:

  1. The problem for the mall is that the woman is an employee of one of the stores in the mall. How is the store going to feel about security guards ridiculing one of its staff?
  2. The woman saw the funny side of it herself but wasn’t pleased that the security staff, who she thought should be looking out for her and making sure she was ok, instead recorded the incident and posted it to YouTube.
  3. The woman has reportedly hired a lawyer and is contemplating a lawsuit against the mall.
  4. The mall was quick to distance itself from the incident, pointing out that the security staff are employed by a guarding company. The guarding company says the incident is under review.
  5. What policies do the owners and operators of the mall have in place regarding the use of CCTV? What policies does the guarding company have?

What started out as a simple health and safety incident has now become an issue involving a tenant of the mall, one of its staff, the security officers, the security company and the owners and operators of the mall – oh, and several law firms.

Owners of video systems around the world should check their policies and procedures and if necessary consider additional staff training, because an incident like this, if not treated properly, has the potential to grow into a big headache for everyone.

Fifteen minutes of YouTube fame = years of litigation? Hmm.

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