New California Bill Keeps In-Car Camera Feeds Private

Car camera

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill that is designed to prevent car companies from selling photos or videos captured from inside a vehicle to third parties.

While it hasn’t become a threat yet, California senator Bill Dodd raised concerns that there were no protections in place to prevent images or visual materials of any kind captured by in-car cameras from being sold to third parties or for the purposes of advertising. In his bill, Senate Bill 296, he aimed to curtail this.

“It seems like everywhere we go these days we’re being recorded or surveilled with no idea how the images are being used,” Dodd says.

“This breakdown of our privacy is now happening inside our own cars. With Gov. Newsom’s signing of this new law, we can prevent the unwanted taking of video by in-vehicle cameras and give consumers more control over their personal information.”

Existing laws do protect some consumer privacy, but Dodd argued there were still gaps that could be exploited. With this new law, customers won’t have to go out of their way to restrict recordings from being collected and instead puts that onus on vehicle manufacturers.

As more cameras are deployed on vehicles, the risk that they could be used to invade privacy rises. Earlier this year, a report claimed that Tesla employees shared photos and videos captured by the electric vehicles’ cameras in the office, including a video of a naked man approaching his own Tesla. Despite the company’s claim that the recordings would remain anonymous, the report alleged that it was not difficult to obtain the identity of customers based on location data.

With Newsom’s signature, it will now be required by law for companies to notify drivers when their images are gathered by in-vehicle cameras and outright bans their sale to third parties who would use them for advertising or simply for the sake of gathering data on drivers.

“Consumers should know if their cars have inward facing cameras that may be recording them and their passengers, and auto companies should not be able to use these videos without a consumer’s clear consent,” Robert Herrell, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, tells Contra Costa News.

“SB 296 would make California the first state in the country to give consumers meaningful control over these types of in-vehicle cameras. We thank Sen. Dodd for authoring this important legislation.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.