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Various regional dailies, 14 February 2015: 'Dashcam doesn't always film legally'

The rise of the dashboard camera is unstoppable. Legally, there are snags, especially on winter sports.

Handy. While the car is in the driveway, a small camera on the dashboard quietly snorts on. This way, you can always see afterwards who scratched your paintwork with their key, or who broke open the car door to pluck that forgotten laptop from the passenger seat.

But is that actually allowed, leaving such a camera running for hours on end? That question is becoming increasingly topical as the dashboard camera, or dashcam for short, makes unstoppable progress. The device is particularly popular for filming unusual journeys. The fact that you can prove that you really came from the right when you are involved in a collision is a bonus. An opportunity police and insurers are capitalising on.
Those who want to know whether filming is legal will have to answer the question of what they are using the footage for, explains ICT lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet. Those who want to use the camera to collect evidence in collisions are allowed to film almost without restriction. But when parking, privacy rules soon come into play, Engelfriet argues. Insurers and camera manufacturers recommend filming even if your car is parked in the same place for a long time. In your own driveway, for instance. After all, this is how you catch burglars and people who cause parking accidents.

Legally, this is sensitive. At such times, the dashcam could be seen as a fixed camera. And then, according to privacy rules, you have to put up a warning sign saying 'camera surveillance', argues Engelfriet. A spokeswoman for the Dutch Data Protection Authority goes even further. If you are filming, you should always make that known, she argues. A motorcyclist with a camera on his helmet is still recognisable to passers-by. But a car with a camera should actually carry the 'camera surveillance' sign while driving, too. Either way, in reality, private individuals ignore these rules en masse (...).

On the internet in particular, the combination of privacy and dashcams often goes wrong (...) After all, dashcam images also include recognisable faces of passers-by and readable number plates.

An invasion of privacy, according to the law. Watchdog Privacy First therefore argues, through lawyer Vincent Böhre, for "smart" software in the cameras that immediately makes license plates and faces unrecognisable. "Put a security key on it. If you have a collision, insurer, police or yourself can always use that key to make the license plates readable again."

Those who find the rules complicated in the Netherlands should leave the dashcam off altogether on their way to winter sports. In Germany, the camera is a legal hornet's nest. A German court ruled, for example, that you can safely mount a camera on your dashboard or motorbike helmet for tourist use. But if you later want to put the footage on the internet, you are illegal from the outset. Even using the footage to prove your innocence in the event of an accident sometimes goes too far, the German court ruled.

In Austria and Luxembourg, as in Portugal, the use of the cameras is even banned altogether, warns the ANWB. Fines can amount to several thousand euros."

Source: BN/DeStem, Brabants Dagblad, De Stentor, Deventer Dagblad, Dagblad Flevoland, Apeldoornse Courant, Dagblad de Limburger, Gelders Dagblad, De Gelderlander, Limburgs Dagblad, Nieuw Kamper Dagblad, Sallands Dagblad, Veluws Dagblad, Zutphens Dagblad, Zwolse Courant, Twentsche Courant Tubantia, Eindhovens Dagblad, Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant, 14 February 2015.