Czech Republic: Operating video cameras in motor vehicles

22.03.2016

Recently, the trend of using video cameras in automobiles has started to become more widespread. Thanks to this step, drivers primarily try to avoid any possible inconveniences that may arise in connection with a traffic accident, and for the subsequent task of proving their own innocence. These video cameras typically have their view through the front windscreen, and assist in proving or identifying the perpetrator of a traffic accident, against whom prosecution may be initiated for an infringement of the law, or in more serious cases, even criminal proceedings. However, it is questionable as to how this continuous monitoring interferes with the privacy of those persons who are filmed without giving their consent, and whether such filming is even in accordance with the law.

In the Czech Republic, the personal data of individuals and legal entities is protected by Act No. 101/2000 Coll., on Personal Data Protection, whose observance is overseen by the Office for Personal Data Protection. The Office recently addressed the question of cameras in motor vehicles, and concluded that if the acquired recordings also include information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person in relation to certain acts or events, it will be considered to be a form of processing personal data. These cameras must therefore be in accordance with the above Act, meaning that their operators must fulfil certain obligations if they do not want to commit an infringement. The operator must first of all realise that the camera recording is to serve as evidence in the event of an accident that the operator was either directly or indirectly involved in. He can, therefore, give the camera recording to the Czech Police in connection with the investigation of a traffic accident, and subsequently to a court in criminal proceedings or administrative authority in administrative proceedings, an insurance company for claims settlement and liquidation, or to a court for the recovery of damages, etc. On the contrary, posting videos with identifiable entities (even for example vehicle registration plate numbers) on a website, e.g. on the YouTube channel, which is quite popular, is not in accordance with the law. The normal time for record-keeping should not exceed two days, e.g. using a time loop. This obviously does not apply to those records which may serve as evidence, see above.

The consent of the recorded persons is not required provided that the resulting recording will, after two days, either be deleted or used only for the purposes listed above. The operator of the camera, however, remains subject to this obligation to provide information about the existence of records to such persons, which must be met no later than when the recording is, for the above purpose, actually used.

Using a camera in a motor vehicle is legal if it occurs in order to protect the property or rights of the operator or third parties. On the contrary, the publication of these recordings just for fun, or even the disclosure of personal information to an indeterminate number of persons, is a problem.