We’ve written this short guide to help small businesses, such as driving instructors and taxi drivers, use dashcams and in-vehicle cameras in a way that complies with the UK GDPR.
Using dashboard cameras – or dashcams – and other in-vehicle cameras can have cost and security benefits for small businesses. It can help reduce insurance premiums and provide protection for drivers.
You can use a camera in your business vehicle, as long as you can justify it. You need to tell people you’re recording them, handle the footage responsibly, and check your data protection fee payments are up-to-date. You should also be aware of people’s rights because you have a role to play in protecting them.
Here are the main things you need to know before you install a camera in your business vehicle.
Be sure it’s your best option
Technology makes it easy for you to record and store people’s conversations and movements – but something being easy doesn’t make it right. There are limits on what you can do with people’s data. You need a ‘lawful basis’ which reflects the reasons you think it’s within the law for you to be doing what you’re doing. Use our lawful basis checker to find out which you can rely on and keep a record of your decision.
Whether you employ staff or trade by yourself, it’s your responsibility to weigh up the business benefits of using cameras against people’s right to privacy in their daily lives. Consider whether you could achieve the same benefits in a less intrusive way.
If you use a dashcam or in-vehicle camera without following the rules, people can complain about you to the ICO and you could face a fine.
It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. If you decide to install a camera that has audio capability, switch this feature off by default and only use it in exceptional circumstances. It’s intrusive which means you need strong justification for using it, for example, if there’s a threat to personal safety.
Similarly, if your business vehicles are used for personal journeys, the cameras should be switched off during non-working hours. This also applies if you install a camera in an employee’s personal vehicle that they’re using for your business journeys.
Tell people if you’re recording them and why
Being upfront with people about what you’re doing, and why, is a great way to build trust as well as comply with data protection laws. It can be as easy as putting a sticker on your vehicle.
For example, Vera uses dashcams in her company vehicles so that she’s got evidence for potential insurance claims, which is a legitimate reason. She includes this in her employment policies.
If Vera changes the reason why she’s using dashcams eg to monitor work performance, she needs to update her policies. She also needs to tell her staff first because they have a right to know.
If you trade by yourself and you want to use a camera in your own vehicle, it’s a bit more straightforward. But if customers will be in or near your vehicle, you need to let them know you’re recording. For example, by displaying a sign in your vehicle. You should also make them aware if you’ve switched the audio function on.
You’ll need to have a privacy notice telling people how their information will be used and your lawful basis. You don’t need to provide it in the car, but your sign should tell them where to find it, such as on your website.
Look after the footage
If you’re collecting, using or sharing data that can identify someone, this is their personal data and you have to keep it safe. Make sure you’ve considered things like password protection and limiting access to your systems only to the people who need to see it; you don’t want your recordings on social media because the wrong person had access to them. For security tips, read our short blog on how to keep your IT systems safe and secure.
Delete the footage when you no longer need it
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how long you should keep data. Generally speaking, if you’re holding several weeks’ worth of recorded footage just in case you need it, that’s probably too long.
Many small businesses, like haulage contractors or couriers, record the road ahead in case there’s an accident and the footage could help settle insurance claims. If there hasn’t been an accident, and you have no other reason to keep the footage, you should probably delete it after a week or so.
To help you decide how long to keep the footage, think back to why you’re using a camera in the first place and consider any industry standards.
Check your data protection fee payments are up-to-date
If any of your work vehicles have a dashcam or CCTV camera, you’ll need to register and pay a data protection fee to the ICO. Most small businesses pay £35 a year. This is the responsibility of the business, rather than individual employees. You can check if you need to register and pay using our online fee checker. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be listed on our register of fee payers which shows others you take your data protection responsibilities seriously.
Be aware of people’s rights
People who are captured on camera have rights, including the right to request copies of their data from you. You’ll need to be aware of this and be able to recognise a request if you get one.
You should also think about how you deal with footage that includes images of other people. If you’re unsure, you might find our step-by-step guide to dealing with a request for information helpful.
Please note: we’re currently updating guidance following the responses from our call for views on employment practices and data protection. Therefore this short guide may be updated in the future.