We have all become used to the camera phone however readers may be interested to note that more and more people are mounting dash board cameras on their private cars and commercial vehicles also the presence of drones taking images over public places is also becoming a common sight.

Is having a dash board camera legal?

Dash cams are becoming increasing popular as a tool for recording car journeys, both for fun and for the purposes of collecting evidence. If a crash happens and if it is recorded by a dash cam, then motorists involved will be able to review the evidence and it will assist insurance companies in preventing fraudulent claims.

An Garda Síochána may also be able to access the video footage from the dash cam. The Data Protection Commissioner has recommended that requests for any type of CCTV footage should only be acceded to where a formal written request is provided stating that An Garda Síochána are investigating a criminal matter. This evidence can be used in Court.

At present Garda cars in Ireland do not have dash board cameras. The reason for this is unlike the US or the UK  the Gardaí do not generally encounter trouble when they are making arrests from a patrol car. We are fortunate not to have a proliferation of legally held hand guns in this Country. Some Garda  patrol cars do however  have an automatic number plate recognition system which can be used for detection.

For a regular road user it is important that your camera does not block your view of the road. Car owners should also be conscious of invading somebody’s privacy and it is frowned upon to post videos on line. In Germany YouTube removes these videos. In some Countries in Europe for example Austria, where privacy laws are very strict, motorists who use a dash cam could face fines of up to €10,000. It is very important if you have a dash cam to be sensitive to other road users and to be aware that you could be responsible for damages if you breach their privacy.

Drones

From the 21st December, 2015 drone registration is mandatory for all drones over 1kg in weight, in accordance with the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rocket Order of 2015.

Again the Data Protection Commissioner has set out guidelines for the legitimate use of drones. They are permitted in a domestic setting under what is sometimes called “The Household Exemption”. Any person using a drone must ensure that it does not inadvertently capture personal data from third persons. This would mean that the Data Protection Acts will apply and drone operators will have to ensure that certain safeguards and obligations are met. Personal date would include, for instance facial images and car registration plates.

Enjoy the toys but accept the responsibilities!