Mark Anderson intends to defy the law and install dash cameras in his company’s vehicles, and dare the authorities to do something about it.
Anderson, owner of West Coast Driver Training, said he informed ICBC, which regulates driving schools in the province, that he was going to install the cameras but was told by the insurance agency that incorporated businesses in B.C. are not allowed to have dash cams or recording devices in company cars.
ICBC cited the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in B.C. and its policy that states that under the Personal Information Protection Act, capturing the images or audio of individuals both inside and outside the vehicle constitutes a collection of personal information.
The policy states that organizations covered by the policy or incorporated businesses must not collect personal information about an individual unless the person has provided consent in accordance with the appropriate sections of PIPA.
“If you are using video surveillance devices in your vehicles, please either remove the devices or provide our office with the legal authority you believe you have to collect personal information captured by the video surveillance, both inside and outside of the vehicle,” the OIPC said in correspondence to Anderson.
Anderson said he thinks it’s a pretty wide-ranging prohibition and it makes no sense not to allow businesses to install dash cams in their vehicles.
He said he feels it’s important that West Coast Driver Training have dash cams to record what is happening in and around the cars, especially after Victoria driving instructor and columnist Steve Wallace was recently accused of sexually harassing teenage students.
“My clients say nothing remotely like that has ever happened in my driving school with their teenage daughters, but I think having dash cams in the cars would give them some extra comfort,” Anderson said.
“There have also been instances of road rage, particularly in school zones where some drivers have gotten angry at my students for driving the speed limit at 30 kilometres an hour, and I’d like to have some records of that.”
Anderson said he intends to install dash cams in his cars regardless of the policy and see what happens.
“I completely disagree with [the OIPC policy],” he said.
“I am totally willing to be charged with an offence of contravening this policy in order to dispute the charge(s) in court and thus get a court ruling on this issue.”
According to the OIPC’s website, the same rules don’t apply to private individuals driving around using dash cams, or recording video using a smartphone.
The website said that in B.C., if those individuals are acting in a domestic capacity, or are not an “organization” under PIPA’s definition, they are not subject to the privacy protective principles.
This means that while your neighbour can record video of you while you’re in your front yard, a courier delivering your mail-order package can’t capture that same scene on a dash cam.
There are some exceptions, including a statute in the BC Passenger Transportation Act which authorizes taxis to use interior video surveillance.
A statement from OIPC regarding Anderson’s concerns said that if driving schools wish to use dash cams, they run the risk of having a complaint come into the OICP’s office.
“When a complaint comes into our office, one of our investigators would attempt to mediate that complaint, and if mediation is not possible, the issue would go to our adjudication team who would then assess and write a legally binding order on the issue,” the statement said.