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Drivesmart column: Are dashcams legal in B.C.?

The Personal Information Protection Act applies
Tim Schewe

By Tim Schewe

I have a question about the dash cam that I use while driving around in Vancouver every day. I see a lot of “interesting” driving, if you know what I mean. That said, I am wondering if I am breaking any privacy laws. Either way, could a police officer use my video to give the driver a ticket?

The Personal Information Protection Act applies:

“…to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by organizations in a manner that recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal information and the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.”

Trying to decide what this legalese requires can be difficult, so here is an article from the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner dealing specifically with dash cam video.

According to the article:

“Video of individuals inside a vehicle or walking on a sidewalk or crosswalk is the personal information of those individuals and, with a few exceptions, can only be collected with the consent of those individuals. But can people who are just going about their daily business on public streets consent to be filmed by a car-mounted camera as it scoots past them at an intersection? Most likely they can’t.”

Video taken by a private individual for personal use in a public place such as our highways is not something that someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy from. This exemption is found in section 3 of the PIPA.

Unless exempted by law, such as the collection of video inside a taxi, by journalists or a public body, PIPA prohibits a commercial organization from doing so without the consent of the people involved. Before you equip your company vehicles with dash cams, it might be wise to obtain legal advice.

There is an article on reporting bad driving to police on this site for guidance. If you choose to do so, your dashcam video can be used as evidence in traffic court but you need to be properly prepared and present at the trial to verify the content.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit