Recent trends indicate an increased use of dashboard cameras in private and business vehicles. And with their growing use comes questions about the legality and privacy implications of their use. The good news is dash cameras and dash cam footage are broadly legal, however, legal use of dash cams shouldn’t be taken for granted. With GDPR protecting the privacy and personal data of individuals within the UK, there are certain rights that companies must respect when obtaining and handling personal data like video images. This, of course, has key implications for fleets using dash cams.
Read on as we discuss privacy regulations and how they impact the filming, usage, and storage of dash cam footage. By following our practical tips on using dash cams responsibly, you will avoid fines and possible lawsuits that result from non-compliance with the regulations.
The Importance Of Understanding Privacy Laws
Understanding privacy laws and how using a dash cam can potentially violate the law is crucial. A company can be fined heavily and even face litigation if it recklessly breaches data and privacy rights.
The key laws and the regulatory bodies governing dash cam privacy regulations are:
- UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – the UK’s data protection law
- The ICO or Information Commissioner’s Office – the regulatory body which upholds the public’s information rights and reports directly to Parliament
Privacy regulations and dash cam usage
Every minute of every day, dash cameras record people’s images, actions, and conversations, as well as potentially sensitive information like vehicle registration numbers and peoples’ workplaces.
In terms of UK GDPR, a filmed image of someone (or a recording of their conversation) is part of their personal data. Companies collecting this material have a duty to handle it responsibly.
UK GDPR directives say:
- Companies must only collect and process personal data for legitimate purposes.
- Companies should collect and retain the minimum amount of personal data necessary for that purpose.
- Individuals have various rights concerning their personal data. These include the right to access and erase it, and object to their data being kept by the organisation.
- Companies are required to report certain types of data breaches to ICO and notify affected individuals if the breach poses a serious risk.
- Data processing must be conducted lawfully and transparently, with individuals being informed about how their data will be used.
Considering these rules, a fleet operator using dash cameras to protect drivers or guard against ‘crash for cash schemes’ can justifiably argue a legitimate purpose. However, it’s essential that drivers are informed that they are being recorded if your fleet uses interior-facing cameras.
Dash Cam Privacy Laws In Different Jurisdictions
Specific laws and restrictions
Private and business drivers planning to drive outside the UK with a dash cam should first ask themselves: “Are dash cams allowed in the jurisdiction?” While Europe shares a commitment to data privacy, different countries have different attitudes to filming members of the public without their express consent.
Unrestricted recording is allowed in Spain. In France, the Netherlands, and Belgium you can use dash cams for private use. Switzerland and Germany are somewhat discouraging. In Austria and Portugal it is illegal to use a dash cam.
It’s advisable to always research the dash cam laws and local regulations in the jurisdiction you’re visiting. Using a dash cam illegally could result in fines, unnecessary grief, and even detention.
Important note: While dash cams may be considered perfectly legal in the UK, they must be safely installed so as not to obscure the driver’s vision. The recommended position is in the centre at the bottom of the windshield or behind the rearview mirror.
The Highway Code states that any obstruction on the windshield cannot be more than 40mm into the area swept by the windscreen wiper blades.
Recording, consent, and data protection
Many dash cams record sound. If someone is recorded without their consent, this is a breach of their privacy. Therefore, taxi drivers, coach operators and people driving company vehicles have to inform passengers if a dash cam is in use.
For companies to cover themselves, it is recommended that anyone whose image or voice might be recorded is advised verbally. In addition, a sticker informing of dash camera usage (and providing the company’s contact details) should be displayed inside and on the vehicle’s exterior.
Practical Tips For Maintaining Privacy
It’s important for the company to have operating guidelines on dash cam usage.
The key UK GDPR directives can guide what this document should cover:
- Legitimate purpose: A clearly stated business justification including an understanding that no more footage than necessary is collected
- Data owner’s rights: A documented process to handle requests from ‘the public’ to access cam footage in which they feature
- Lawful and transparent filming: To include informing and seeking consent from people for filming
- Integrity and confidentiality: A best practice to protect personal data from unauthorised access, loss, or damage
- Data breach notification: A process for informing the regulators and affected individuals of a data breach
Any fleet manager must keep an accurate running log of all cameras, SD cards, and vehicles fitted with dash cams to ensure data security best practices.
Handling recorded footage
When you record someone’s image, you have an obligation to protect and not abuse their image. For example, you can’t use their image on your website without their permission. And a dramatic event caught on dash cam shouldn’t be shared around the office for entertainment, or on YouTube.
The video footage should be stored securely with the proper controls in place, limiting access to only authorised personnel. Safeguard material with strong passwords and have a protocol for securely sharing dash cam footage with police, insurers, and solicitors in need.
How long should you retain dash cam footage? The guiding principle is to only retain the footage and data as long as you need it. Delete securely when no longer required.
Many companies record journeys so that they have video evidence in the event of an accident and insurance claim. ICO recommends that if there was no accident and there are no other reasons to keep the data it can be deleted after a week or two.
Dash cams are more than just a piece of fancy kit. For individuals, they can reduce liability, insurance, and other costs. For fleet operators, the benefits extend even further. Managers are able to monitor an entire fleet and continuously enhance road and driver safety.
Crystal Ball offers advanced dash cam solutions fully integrated with cutting-edge vehicle tracking and other smart features. We would be delighted to discuss how we can help streamline and future-proof your fleet tracking. Don’t hesitate to contact the Crystal Ball team for further information.