LTA releases guidelines for inward-facing in-vehicle recording devices to safeguard privacy

In Singapore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has recently published a set of installation guidelines for inward-facing in-vehicle recording devices (IVRDs) in public service vehicles (PSVs) such as taxis and  private hire cars (PHCs).

Under the latest guidelines, PSV owners must obtain LTA’s approval to install inward-facing IVRDs. Approved installations can only be carried out at LTA-authorised installation centres. This is to ensure that the inward-facing IVRDs are installed according to the manufacturer’s requirements and LTA’s requirements, and to prevent the inward-facing IVRDs from being tampered with.

The requirements regarding IVRD installations include:

(1)    IVRDs must be installed in accordance to the manufacturer’s specifications and in accordance with the further guidelines stated below to ensure that IVRDs are installed safely.

(2)    IVRDs must be secured in such a manner that prevents any unauthorised access to and downloading of the stored data, such as through locking the memory card slot and blocking the micro USB port).

(3)    IVRDs must be installed in a fixed position and cannot be rotated in order to prevent the capture of compromising visual records of commuters.

(4)    IVRDs must not have any audio recording function so that the passengers’ conversations are not recorded.

(5)    IVRD footage can only be retained for a maximum of seven days i.e. must be deleted after seven days, to reduce the risk of being misused. Drivers and passengers are encouraged to promptly lodge a report of any incident that may require the use of the IVRD footage.

(6)    All footage created by the IVRD must clearly indicate a date and time stamp, as well as the PSV’s licence plate number to facilitate investigations in the event of misuse of the footage.

(7)    Installation centres must keep detailed records of every vehicle installed with IVRDs and provide such records to LTA as and when required by LTA.

Drivers who wish to use LTA approved installed inward-facing IVRDs must obtain the written permission of the Registrar. Drivers will be subjected to further stringent guidelines on the use of installed IVRDs.

PSV owners that have installed inward-facing IVRDs at LTA-authorised installation centres will be required to affix a notice notifying passengers of the inward-facing IVRD in the PSV. PSV owners will also be required to carry out periodic checks to ensure that the inward-facing IVRDs have not been tampered with, and must report any indication of tampering or non-compliance with LTA’s guidelines to LTA immediately.

In addition, booking service operators must inform commuters if a PSV installed with an inward-facing IVRD is being dispatched to them.

The guidelines will come into effect on 22 June 2018.

Restricted access to the footage

Under the guidelines, there will be restricted access to the footage recorded by inward-facing IVRDs.

Government agencies and LTA-authorised data controllers will be allowed to access the footage to support investigations and enforcement efforts e.g. cases of fare evasion by commuters, or alleged offences by the driver.

The data controllers will be required to follow stringent guidelines including requirements such as putting in place proper safeguards on the storage and access to the footage and ensuring that only authorised personnel have access to the footage.

Under the Road Traffic Act, LTA will impose the following penalties to persons found liable for offences relating to the unauthorised installation of inward-facing IVRDs and the unauthorised access of visual records:

A fine up to $1,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both upon conviction. In the case of a second or subsequent offence, a fine up to $2,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both upon conviction.

For taxi and PHC drivers, the penalty would be 21 demerit points, which may lead to the revocation of the driver’s vocational licence under the Chauffeured Private Hire Car and Taxi Driver’s Vocational Licence Demerit Points System.

For drivers of private hire buses, excursion buses and school buses, LTA may revoke their vocational licences.

Recent developments in personal data protection in the transport industry

The LTA’s guidelines complement the Personal Data Protection Commission’s (PDPC) Advisory Guidelines on in-vehicle recordings, which clarify the obligations under the Personal Data Protection Act that operators and drivers of transport services for hire must comply with when they use inward-facing IVRDs to capture individuals’ personal data.

As reported earlier, under the latest advisory guidelines issued by PDPC, organisations that use IVRDs to capture personal data are required to comply with provisions under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). As such, organisations must put in place the necessary policies and practices to meet these obligations. For example, organisations that lease vehicles to drivers to provide transport services for hire should also ensure that drivers, as data intermediaries, are aware of and exercise proper data practices and security arrangements involving the collection, use and disclosure of personal data captured by IVRDs.

Together, these guidelines serve to protect commuter safety and their personal data, and prevent unauthorised access to the footage recorded by inward-facing IVRDs.

The guidelines will come into effect on 22 June 2018.

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