The AA has made a rallying cry against motorists who over share footage taken with their dash cams, suggesting that the next government should consider imposing tighter restrictions on their use.
In 2017, nothing happened unless there’s photographic evidence of it. Almost everyone you know has a social media profile, with hundreds (and often thousands) of photos of every significant event in their life. When a serious incident occurs, passers-by are often the first to broadcast the news, uploading clips to video sharing sites like YouTube. Now, with up to 15% of drivers of all new and used cars in the UK owning and using a dash cam, the AA has claimed that something’s got to give.
The motoring organisation has spoken out against misuse of dash cam footage, which is gathered by a front facing camera attached to a driver’s dashboard (or helmet, in the case of people riding motorbikes and bicycles). Those latter groups are certainly more vulnerable on the road than cars, and may have more justification for recording their daily journeys and the actions of the drivers sharing the road, but some car drivers are exploiting dash cams and causing disproportionate damage.
Where is the line on our privacy in the 21st century?
According to AA President Edmund King, not all users have the best of intentions, and while the majority of drivers use this technology to defend themselves against fraudulent insurance claims and dangerous drivers, there are too many people partaking in “vehicular voyeurism”, filming and publicly sharing minor offences or scenes which, out of context, unfairly portray other drivers. The backlash against those other drivers can potentially be huge, from DVLA involvement, police investigation, negative impact on an insurance policy, job dismissal, and public humiliation.
If a fellow driver is genuinely causing danger or committing a serious crime, then the AA believe that dash cam usage can be extremely valuable, but they urge users to stop sharing trivial or misrepresented footage online.
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This kind of issue for drivers and professionals in the motor trade is relatively new, emerging with the advent of technology, but countries around the world have already taken steps to prevent the misuse of dash cams. For example, in Italy, drivers have to pixelate or obscure the licence or trade plates of any vehicles they have filmed. In Austria and Germany, drivers are discouraged from using them at all, and in Luxembourg, dash cams are banned altogether. Belgium and Portugal have taken an interesting approach, only permitting the online sharing of dash cam footage with the other parties’ consent, thereby still giving genuine drivers the chance to legally protect themselves against fraudsters and dangerous drivers, but without the automatic right to publicly shame the other drivers.
If in any doubt, footage should always be passed to the police for confidential and proper investigation, says Mr King.