dashcam rules apply in Belgium

Belgium has no specific dashcams rules and regulations. Below we review the 5 most important use cases and the related law. Along the way, we discuss case law, privacy, and GDPR. We finish off with some sound advice with regards to dashcam rules in Belgium and neighboring European countries. Read on and you will discover this article might save you some penalties and issues with locals and authorities.

1. Court evidence

Dashcam footage is acceptable as evidence before Belgian Courts. According to the federal police, the dashcam owner must in addition register the dashcam. Surprisingly, another government website creates confusion by saying the opposite. Home Affairs concludes that dashcams used to collect evidence don’t have to be declared. This contradiction may be solved by distinguishing recording for settlement of own disputes as opposed to recording for surveillance. The Camera Act states that only the cameras used for surveillance should be declared.

Court case: traffic aggression

In a recent case, the court considered admissible a dashcam recording of excessive traffic aggression. The recording originated from a dashcam in a regular private vehicle. Furthermore, the court ruled that the Camera Act did not apply. Indeed, there is a distinction when a dashcam isn’t used for surveillance purposes.

Dashcam rule: duty to inform

In the event of a motor vehicle collision, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also requires the dashcam owner to promptly inform the other party of the footage and the intention to use this in court. For instance, immediately after the accident during a discussion with a counterpart.

2. Dashcam rules on publishing footage

Shaming drivers for their lacking driving skills through social media has become commonplace. Nevertheless, publishing dashcam footage online will trigger the GDPR. Accordingly, the owner of the dashcam footage will be considered a data controller. The data controller should always have a legal ground to process personal data. In general, the owner must obtain written consent before sharing the footage publicly. More on this in the video surveillance guidelines published by the European Data Protection Board.

Does the GDPR apply?

It depends. The GDPR applies as soon as dashcam footage identifies or may identify an individual. A license plate number may allow one to identify license plate holders. Recordings of license plates are therefore processing of personal data. However, there is an exception for household activities.

Exception for purely personal activity

As an exception, the GDPR does not apply to the processing of personal data by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity. Using a dashcam to record a family vacation and viewing the footage afterward falls outside of the scope of the GDPR.

3. Dashcam rules and taxis

Taxi drivers often use dashcams for the purpose of surveying and guarding certain areas, such as the interior of a taxi vehicle. In such a case, the Camera Act imposes specific dashcam rules in Belgium. These apply in addition to the GDPR:

  • Show an icon to notify customers;
  • Declare the dashcam online;
  • Delete recordings after one month, unless used in proceedings;
  • Maintain a written register of image processing activities.

Compliance with the record-keeping obligation in the Camera Act requires the data controller to maintain a register with the following information:

  1. Contact details and name of the controller;
  2. Processing purposes;
  3. Categories of data subjects and categories of personal data;
  4. Categories of recipients of personal data;
  5. Retention period of the data;
  6. Security measures description.

In order to facilitate compliance, the Belgian Data Protection Authority created a model register. One can use the model template to satisfy the record-keeping obligation in the Camera Law and the GDPR.

4. Dashcam rules and labor law

In certain cases, employers rely on security cameras or to measure and control the performance of employees. Dashcams may be used by taxi companies to monitor drivers and their performance. Such employers ought to be transparent in their surveillance activities. Some important employment rules are:

  1. State the surveillance system in the company’s work regulations
  2. Perform risk analysis
  3. Keep a record of the surveillance activities in the data processing register
  4. Avoid taking decisions solely based on camera footage

Camera footage and employee dismissal

Employee dismissal is an important reason to comply with the rules set out in collective labour agreement nr. 68 and mentioned above. For instance, if an employer records employees without their knowledge and subsequently fires them, the judge will usually rule that the camera footage is invalid. This means that the employer will have to pay financial compensation for irregular dismissal.

5. Dashcam rules in other countries

Depending on the country, vastly different dashcam rules may apply. Luxembourg for instance, dashcam rules are much more strict compared dashcam rules in Belgium. Recording dashcam footage is a criminal offense. The Netherlands, France and most other neighboring countries have flexible dashcam rules. And while there is no specific legislation in Germany, their courts may allow dashcam footage in extraordinary situations. Therefore, plan ahead and beware that not all countries have dashcam friendly rules like Belgium.

Conclusion

Dash cameras are quite useful as a means to generate evidence when something goes wrong inside or outside the vehicle. Depending on the use case the following dashcam laws may apply across the EU: the General Data Protection Regulation. In addition, there are dashcam rules specific in Belgium: the collective labor agreement on camera surveillance and the Camera Act.

If you are an employer, employee or have any legal questions regarding the use of camera footage in court, feel free to reach me.

Share:
Written by Ivan Verstraeten
Data Protection Officer and Infosec Professional | Azure and Red Hat Certified | Pentest+