The UK is seeing an explosion in the use of Dashboard Cameras and we have been asked a few times what is the position with regards to the Data Protection Act. There is very little guidance out there and so thought that the following advice might be useful.
Firstly, dashboard cams are not classed as CCTV as they are not fixed and focused on monitoring a specific area, and so not covered within the ICO’s CCTV Code of Conduct.
Just as you can whip out your iPhone and record as you drive along, well, as long as you are not the driver that is! It is perfectly legal to film in a public place. Obviously, filming in sensitive areas such as outside military barracks may get you in trouble (see Met Police Guidelines) and other areas to avoid include where children are playing.
When recording in public places other considerations will come into play; this guide from the London Borough of Richmond is very useful in highlighting the main elements.
As Dashboard cams are not covered by the legislation you do not need to Notify the ICO, nor is signage required, which is obligatory for non-domestic CCTV cameras. However, if the Dashboard Cams are on work or commercial vehicles, then a member of the public has the right under Section 7 of the DPA to make a Subject Access Request to view the footage which contains their image; for that reason a sign saying how they can apply for this may be warranted but not currently compulsory.
Inward facing cameras however are a different kettle of fish as these will have greater privacy concerns for individuals, and come under the rules for monitoring staff. Data Controllers will need to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment and have to justify the use on a case by case basis. There is nothing within the legislation to stop an organisation installing these cameras if it is proportionate to the problem it is addressing, but relations between management and staff may be tested, and the ICO may have questions if over-monitoring is employed without serious reasons for doing so.
This guidance is offered for information only, and not intended as legal advice. If legal advice is required guidance from the Information Commissioner or qualified legal counsel should be sought.