You may have heard of this incident in Costa Mesa California last October where an Uber driver was attacked by a passenger. Because the driver had a Dash cam he was able to record the incident. But the dash cam isn’t just for crazy passengers, it’s for proving you were not at fault in case of an accident as well.
So, if something like this happened to me then I would be very upset if I didn’t have the recorded proof on my side to show people.
Here’s some things you need to know before looking into buying a dash camera
IS IT LEGAL?
According to california law it is illegal to record someone without their consent.
California Wiretapping Law
California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632. The statute applies to “confidential communications” — i.e., conversations in which one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation. See Flanagan v. Flanagan, 41 P.3d 575, 576-77, 578-82 (Cal. 2002). A California appellate court has ruled that this statute applies to the use of hidden video cameras to record conversations as well. See California v. Gibbons, 215 Cal. App. 3d 1204 (Cal Ct. App. 1989).
If you are recording someone without their knowledge in a public or semi-public place like a street or restaurant, the person whom you’re recording may or may not have “an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation,” and the reasonableness of the expectation would depend on the particular factual circumstances. Therefore, you cannot necessarily assume that you are in the clear simply because you are in a public place.
If you are operating in California, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any conversation that common sense tells you might be “private” or “confidential.” In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the California wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party. See Cal. Penal Code § 637.2.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
I am not a lawyer so please don’t take my word for it but from what I gather, as long as you post a sticker or sign stating that recording is in progress then that may be good enough.
Does that qualify as consent though?
Apparently, the passenger Benjamin Golden that assaulted the Uber driver is now suing the Uber driver.
As a result of media coverage, Golden says he suffered humiliation and the loss of his job. The lawsuit claims invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery.
Read more on the lawsuit here California man sues Uber driver he punched
I know that stores use video surveillance and all they have to do is post a sign so it sounds like that should be good enough but again, consult a lawyer if you want to be 100% sure because i’m not here to give you legal advice.
How Will Riders Feel About Being Recorded?
Taxi cabs have been using recording technology for years but the average uber rider has most likely never taken a taxi before, especially here in southern California.
Today privacy is a big concern and I think most riders will be against it but they need to realize that it’s in fact a place of business just like them walking into Target or Wal Mart. Those stores use their cameras for the same protection. Riders will have to learn to deal with it. Drivers have every right to protect themselves and their property and the cameras decrease their liability by providing evidence in otherwise hearsay cases against drivers.
I think all drivers should be using dash cams. The more drivers that do, the more accepting passengers will be in the near future. You can be accused of so many things, their was even a driver accused of rape but evidence from his dash camera cleared his name. Without that the man would still be in jail and that women would have successfully won and then sued Uber for millions. I think Uber and Lyft should require the use and provide drivers with cameras for such reasons.
California Recording Law