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Zoom Conundrum

+1 vote

Appologies if this post appears twice. I asked this question a few days ago (My first post) but so far it has not appeared which seems an unusually long vetting period.

Q.  Our Parish Clerk records Zoom meetings as handy reference for the minutes after which the recording is deleted once the minutes have been signed off. One of our regular residents at meetings voiced concern regarding his privacy under GDPR seaking assurance that the recordings would not be published. He is a respected resident who's constructive comments and interest in community affairs are largely welcome during the public session and often at other times as well. In short he is not a trouble maker and rarely misses a meeting even in the worse weather. The Clerk assured this resident that the recordings are only made to help with minute taking after which they are deleted and he was happy with that reassurance; we thought that was an end to it.

However, after our last meeting another resident who has previously displayed no interest in the Parish Council or meetings has asked for a copy of the last recording. Further I would guess she only attended this time due to the convenience of Zoom, as during the meeting she could be seen, somewhat annoyingly, accessing a tablet/iPad for long periods and when she wasn't doing that she was walking about her kitchen attending to other things just occassionally returning to the screen for a few seconds but standing hands on hips so close that only her middle section could be seen filling the screen, also periodically switching her video off for lenghty periods. You can tell I and others found this quite annoying and you may also be able to guess that I feel more weighted towards the regular attendee's request for privacy.

Does anybody have a view or knowledge of how we might deal with these two opposing requests. Any suggestions or advise would be very welcome. 

asked by (430 points)
edited by

4 Answers

0 votes
You have already stated your supposed policy for retention of recordings as an aid memoir for production of written minutes. There is nothing stopping anyone recording the meeting on their own computer and thereby having a copy of the proceedings just as at a normal PC meeting. As to the described behaviour if correct then it is within the powers of the chair to effectively  "remove" the disruptive person from the meeting by severing their connection. A lot easier than requesting them to leave a physical meeting.
answered by (3.1k points)
Thanks for taking the time to reply it is appreciated. I'm sorry but I am not sure what you mean by,

You have already stated your supposed policy for retention of recordings as an aid memoir for production of written minutes. There is nothing stopping anyone recording the meeting on their own computer and thereby having a copy of the proceedings just as at a normal PC meeting.

Do you mean that because a resident is free to, and have had the oportunity to, take their own recording and didn't do so, the Parish Council therefore does not have to provide a copy of our recording which was taken for the sole purpose of producing the minutes.

Re the other point. Yes we are aware the Chair (or Clerk I believe) are at liberty to remove a disruptive person but it might be difficult to subsequently prove the described behavior as disruptive and therefore a difficult decision for the chair to take mid-meeting. Not paying attention and displaying a degree of respect for the proceedings might not be seen by some as disruptive, bad mannered and disrepectful, yes! but disruptive I think might be seen by some as not the case especially after the event. If something like being ejected from a meeting got onto social media and told from one perpective it is something desirable to avoid.
But! What I was really interested in was the dual request re making available the recording or not.
Thanks again for your advice it is appreciated
Hi James you stated that the clerk takes recordings to facilitate the minutes which are then passed at the next meeting at which point the recording is erased. I assume that this was a policy adopted by your council. The fact that the clerk uses them to ensure accurate written minutes which are the council's only official method of adopting minutes does not I am sure confer on members of the public the right to access those recordings.I am sure this might be an arguable point as we are somewhat in uncharted territory.A polite stating of this with the acknowledgement that any member of the public is free to make their own recording .
I'm sorry but some times the Chair's job is slightly more than sitting on a plinth and there are times when they must make decisions regarding the smooth and expedient running of meetings. A PC meeting is not a free for all and the chair and the council can expect the most basic of manners and respect for their position from the public who attend with the councils invitation. The chair does not have to "prove" anything their word and decisions are final. Once you go down the road of fear of trial by social media you are on a slippery slope and might as well disband your council. Decision to remove someone from a meeting would of course be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. In your example perhaps a word from the Chair to the inattentive person with everyone else muted might have drawn her attention to her behaviour being unacceptable at a meeting.
Thanks again for your thoughts on this.
I think we may have resolved it in the last hour or so and especially as your judgement is that we are (perhaps??) not obliged to supply a recording primarilly taken for our own purpose of minute taking. My own thoughts were similar and I was hoping to hear such from a more experienced person such as yourself. It is indeed in our standing orders re. recording for minute taking and deleted once signed off, albeit a recent addition to standing orders to accommodate the Zoom environment. Nevertheless we have been wringing our hands so to speak with the Freedom of Information Act in mind.
Anyway this evening the Clerk contacted the resident with concern re his privacy asking if he would mind if on this one occassion we allowed the recording to be released. His answer was catogorically NO! he did not want the video releasing under any circumstances and find himself spread all over social media. I'm affraid we do have very active and not always appreciated social media network in our community but his firm 'No' ties our hands. I did say he was a helpful chap.

One last thing I understand the comments about Chair and plinths but I can say that our Chair and plinth do not work in the same sentence and control is usually no issue for her. The meeting in question was however quite a lively one which is probably why the recording has been requested due to the person making the request not having paid sufficient attention. Because it was lively the Chair had something of a handful to control and at that time the described resident's behaviour (which sort of gradually escalated anyway) would have just been a distraction to the necessary control of the meeting.
So where we are presently at, is the Clerk has emailed the person requesting the recording primarilly answering with a 'No' for the reasons stated above and we'll see where that takes us, but the minutes will be signed off this week anyway and the recording deleted. As we have enough space we are hoping that the Oct. meeting will be back to live meets in the Parish Rooms despite the convenience of Zoom especially on cold winter nights.
0 votes
You will need to consider the second request in relation to your responsibilities under Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation. I cannot comment on the former, but you should carefully consider whether this could be considered a valid subject access request under the Data Protection Act as the requester's image constitutes their personal data.
answered by (910 points)
Yes! agreed thanks that was why I titled this question a 'Zoom Conundrum' but we will just have to see how it pans out as it is a catch 22 which ever way you approach it. Zoom can sometimes be more trouble than it's worth it might seem.
0 votes
Hmmm I understand the frustration regarding the second individual but I would say this is a 'failing' of your Chairman here in not managing the resident properly. She wouldn't be permitted to walk around the meeting room in such a manner so they Chair should have politely called her out. That being said the resident clearly had very little respect for a formal meeting.

However, I am very pro-transparency of council business and don't see why the recording could not be posted on your site, social media or alike. I get the minutes are an accurate reflection of the recording but still, context is everything. Technically your 'regular' resident has no legal right to demand that the recording not be shown. The law would ever so slightly tip in favour of the 'annoying' resident given that it's a public meeting that is governed by transparency.
answered by (4.4k points)
Thank you Chloe, I take your point and I can’t say that I disagree, although the uncertainty and the catch 22 element was of course the conundrum  and the different opinions offered I am very grateful for.
Believe me though, our Chair does not normally have an issue with control; a retired professional who had a team of account managers working for her.  I know employer to employee meetings are often easier to control but in her two terms as chair she has never had an issue even on one occasions with 60 plus angry residents to deal with, this due to a main council failing.
Posting the whole recording to social media may not really be an option as it is was a very full meeting lasting 3+ hours and the Zoom file is 1.5Gbs, larger than many feature films.
However what this last Zoom meeting has highlighted (Zoom being new to us) is that the Chair has not had access to the Zoom controls with only the Clerk being able to mute or eject someone.  As said we are on a Zoom learning curve so that will now be corrected for future meetings although we are hoping to get back to live meetings ASAP, this months was hoped be our last Zoom as the neighbouring Parish have already returned to (approved) live meets with considerably less space than we have.
Re the law tipping very slightly in favour of a FIA request, I do respect your view on that but I am not so sure that a judgement (if it had to go that far) could be predicted to tip slightly in any particular direction. If that were an established fact surely there would be no need for a judgement.
Anyway that aside, the resident requesting the recording was informed by email of the previous request for privacy and invited to attend our next Zoom meeting so that we could discuss. She didn’t reply or attend the meeting, held yesterday; apparently a continued disregard for common courtesy.  As previously said she has never before attended meetings or shown any other interest and I would guess that will likely be the future. Although by all accounts she is quite active on the local FB page and it seems this was the residents concern regarding privacy. Meaning he didn’t want to find video clips of a lively meeting, involving himself, that had been edited and  joined to convey a totally different picture of what had taken place and I find it hard to be at odds with that reasoning.
The problem has now gone away due to the resident concerned apparently having no further interest and minutes having been read and signed off in public the recording will now be deleted in accordance with our standing orders . Thanks to all for the opinions all of which I found  helpful.

James
0 votes

Aside from the conundrum itself. With regards to you using the recordings to assist with minutes, Zoom allows you to record an audio file of a meeting. It also allows you the option to record each participant into their own file.

There's a guide here - https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362473-Local-recording#h_96380e17-816d-4eda-a4b9-740d1498eac6

So, however you might proceed with this same issue in the future, you could have removed 'the person who said no' from the audio files (and anyone else who didn't want their audible contributions made public), and sent that on the remainder to anyone who requested it.

Hope that makes sense, and glad you sorted it in the end.

answered by (200 points)
Hi,
Yes that does make perfect sense and thank you. I had noticed the separate audio file on the Clerks PC which appears might be created by default it would seem or at least the way our Clerk has Zoom set either intentionally or otherwise but I/we were not aware of the redaction options. I'll have to give that a good coat of looking at.

Thanks for the heads up.

James

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