In a closely-watched case, Germany's highest court is deliberating on whether footage from dashcams in cars can be submitted as evidence. Recordings can yield vital information, but they also raise privacy concerns.
Germany's Federal Court of Justice was expected to decide Tuesday whether to accept dashboard camera video as evidence in a case stemming from a crash between two cars.
One of the drivers, a man from central Germany, launched the appeal at the federal court in Karsruhe, arguing that he could prove the accident was not his fault. He says he should be entitled to full compensation because recordings from the mini camera mounted on his windshield show the other car turning into his lane and colliding with his vehicle.
But lower courts have refused to allow the footage to be admitted as evidence. An earlier decision by the District Court in Magdeburg found that accepting private dashcam recordings breached data protection laws as well as other road users' right to privacy.
A question of privacy
Germany's data privacy laws are particularly strict. Under Section 6b of the Federal Data Protection Act, it is illegal to constantly film third parties in a public space. Those who do so, store the footage or upload it online can expect a fine. According to legal experts, that also applies to dashcams.
"We don't want citizens to monitor other citizens," said Oliver Malchow, head of the police union. But he added there was something to be said for allowing dashcam footage to be admitted as evidence because it could, for example, help insurers clear up who is culpable in an accident.
Previous district courts in Germany have ruled on both sides. For example, in 2016, the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart became the country's first high court to approve the use of car camera footage to prove a traffic violation.
nm/rt (AFP, dpa)