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Motorists with dash cams have duties under data protection law, DPC says

Data regulator says publishing footage on social media platforms risked infringing privacy rights.

Motorists installing dash cams in their cars to avail of discounts from their insurance companies should be aware of the legal responsibilities they are taking on under data protection law, the Data Protection Commission has said.

A number of motor insurers, including FBD and Axa, have recently begun offering discounts to motorists who install such a device. In Axa’s case, the company entered a partnership with a dash camera company to provide the cameras at a discount.

“Where the use of as dash cam is incentivised in this way, the driver is exhibiting a clear prior purpose and intention to obtain and process the personal data of other persons, for the purpose of recording accidents,” the commission said in a guidance note.

It said personal data, which includes any images and audio captured by such cameras, must be processed “in a transparent manner”.

“In the first instance, there should be a clearly visible sign or sticker on and/or inside the vehicle, as applicable, to indicate that filming is taking place,” the commission said.

It said drivers should have “a policy sheet detailing your contact details, the basis on which you are collecting the images and audio of others, the purposes of use of the data and how long you will retain it for”.

Before entering into an arrangement with an insurer to use a dash cam “you should ask them to outline their policies in relation to the personal data that you will record, and what responsibilities they will have as data controllers”, it added.

“If you enter into an arrangement with your insurer that requires you to own or operate a dash cam to avail of a discount, your insurer may be acting as a joint data controller of any personal data that you record with the dash cam,” the commission said.

The regulator also said that if someone was using a dash cam for security or accident liability purposes, they should be aware that the publication of footage, for example on social media platforms, risked infringing the privacy rights of recorded individuals, and data protection law.

While the guidance specifically refers to dash cameras, it would equally apply to cases where cyclists or other road users are recording footage of others in public, and to the use of cameras mounted on private homes where they also record a public area.

The commission said An Garda Síochána may request a copy footage for the investigation of a crime, but that where possible, such a request should be obtained in writing.

It said that if it received a complaint from an individual in relation to a driver operating a dash cam, where for example the driver had refused to give access to the images when requested, or refused to give information about why they were collecting the data, the DPC would “look into the issue”.

“Where the DPC identifies infringements of data protection law in any sector or scenario, it has powers to sanction including to apply large administrative fines,” it said.