Data privacy watchdog issues guidelines on use of in-vehicle cameras by transport services

Data privacy watchdog issues guidelines on use of in-vehicle cameras by transport services

There is a new set of advisory guidelines for transport services that use in-vehicle recording devices (IVRDs), according to a press release by the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) on Monday (Apr 9).

SINGAPORE: There is a new set of advisory guidelines for transport services that use in-vehicle recording devices (IVRDs), according to a press release by the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) on Monday (Apr 9).

The PDPC said in the release that it is common practice for such service providers, which include taxis, private hire cars and private charter buses, to use in-vehicle cameras.

The agency highlighted that images, audio recordings and video recordings may contain personal data that could identify an individual. 

As such, organisations that use such devices are required to comply with provisions under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and must put in place the necessary policies and practices to meet these obligations, it said.

Companies that lease vehicles to drivers who provide transport services for hire should also ensure these drivers are aware of, and exercise, proper data protection practices, the release said.

Some of the key requirements when collecting personal data via these in-vehicle cameras are:

  • Notify individuals of the purposes for collecting, using and disclosing their personal data captured by IVRDs. For example, a prominent notice should be placed on the passenger door and/or in the vehicle such that individuals are made aware, prior to boarding the vehicle, that IVRDs are used in the vehicle and the purpose of doing so
  • Ensure they collect, use or disclose personal data only for purposes that are reasonable. For example, to ensure the safety and security of the driver and the passengers or to deter fare evasion
  • Cease the use or disclosure of individuals’ personal data in the in-vehicle recording upon withdrawal of consent by the individual after using the transport service. They need not delete the recording upon withdrawal of consent, and may retain it, if there are any legal or business purposes
  • Grant individuals access to the personal data in their possession or control, and provide information about how such personal data may have been used or disclosed by the organisation in the past year, unless the burden or expense incurred for providing access would be unreasonable
  • Make reasonable security arrangements to protect the personal data captured by the IVRDs to prevent unauthorised access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or similar risks

The PDPC said that drivers who record, store or retrieve personal data through such recordings on behalf of an organisation are considered a data intermediary, and are subject to the protection and retention limitation obligations of the PDPA.

This means that they are responsible for ensuring that he or she make reasonable security arrangements to protect the personal data in their possession or under their control, the agency explained.

The PDPC advisory guidelines were developed in consultation with the Land Transport Authority, and took into consideration feedback from taxi and car rental companies, the National Private Hire Vehicles' Association, the National Taxi Association and the Vehicle Rental Association, the agency said.

This was done through a series of closed-door consultation sessions, it added.

A LTA spokesperson later clarified with Channel NewsAsia that approval must be sought from the agency before inward-facing cameras can be installed in taxis and private hire cars.

She pointed to a reply by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan made in Parliament last year, when he said the agency will approve the installation if there are sufficient safeguards for passenger's privacy.

Additionally, the PDPC and LTA have jointly produced an accompanying A5-sized handbook that illustrates common scenarios of transport services for hire and highlights key data protection obligations for organisations and drivers, the press release said. 

A total of 1,000 handbooks have been distributed to drivers through the car rental and taxi companies and associations, it added.

Source: CNA/kk(aj)

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