Cyclists may breach data laws with on-board cameras

Cyclists using body-worn cameras or homeowners with CCTV cameras attached to their property, may be acting illegally, warns the Data Protection Commissioner.

If a cyclist or homeowner uses footage from these cameras, beyond a personal capacity, then they may be in breach of data-protection law.

“If an individual is using CCTV or a body-worn camera and processing personal data beyond what is a ‘personal or household activity’ then they may assume the role of a data controller and as such they would be required to comply with data protection legislation,” a spokesperson from the DPC’s office said.

The issue came up in the commissioner’s annual report for 2015, published in June, listing it as one of three major data protection matters that arose.

The spokesperson from the commissioner’s office stated however, that where an individual processes data from such cameras for their own personal affairs or keeps it for recreational purposes, this is exempt from the data protection law.

However, even if the activity is exempt a person such as a neighbour might object to it and take a civil action.

“Though outside the remit of this office, it may be the case that even where this exemption does apply, an individual who objects to the recording, for example a neighbour who objects to images of his or her property being recorded, may be able to take a civil action based on the constitutional and common law right to privacy,” said the spokesperson.

The commissioner’s report also made an audit finding on the excessive use of body-worn cameras.

“Our general guidance in this area is that we would consider that body-worn cameras should only be activated in extreme cases in response to specific pre-defined criteria, where it could be justified for security and safety purposes,” reads the report.


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