With just a few clicks, it is possible to purchase inexpensive body cams from various online providers, which, in addition to the main target group of “consumers”, also advertise their use for security personnel. At first glance, it seems that such a “consumer body cam” can be exchanged for a professional version that serves the same purpose — the protection of emergency personnel and the de-escalation of conflict situations — in equal measure.
We explain why security forces should definitely opt for a professional body cam.
What Is The Legal Situation Regarding The Use Of Body Cams?
Body cams may only record situations with images and sound if there is a specific purpose (e.g. a conflict or a dangerous situation). Legally, the collection of evidence for criminal prosecution (is the responsibility of the police) and the increase of the own sense of security do not count.
In addition, the following applies: before using a body cam, an operational concept (GDPR-Compliant Body Cam Use — Everything You Need To Consider (netco.de)) must be created that includes when and by whom a body cam may be used. In addition, filming in sensitive locations (e.g. medical supply stores) must be ruled out and documentation of the technical-organizational measures (TOM) for handling personal data is required.
What Distinguishes A Professional Body Cam?
Professional body cams and their associated management software are developed and manufactured in accordance with the applicable data protection regulations. Security employees complete tailored training courses to learn the legal and technical handling of the cameras.
Data protection-compliant configurations are preset on the body cam to ensure legally compliant handling and to protect the privacy rights of third parties. Recorded videos, for example, cannot be played back on the camera itself, but must first be encrypted and uploaded to a secure server via the camera charging station (SmartHub). Only the persons specified in the operational concept can view body cam recordings that are to be forwarded to the public prosecutor’s office. Consequently, videos can also only be deleted by this group of people. Deletion on the camera itself is prohibited, as otherwise a police officer, for example, could delete a video directly on the camera that is unpleasant for himself. However, body cams are also intended to provide evidence if an officer has not behaved correctly, so the person recording and the person deleting the video must not be the same person.
It is therefore essential to be able to make user, rights and role distribution settings in the body cam management software.
In addition to SmartHubs, other accessories such as holders are needed for successful body cam use (Matching Accessories For Body Cams — NetCo Professional Services GmbH). When attaching cameras to uniforms, holders must be procured individually; with standard products, there is a risk that the body cam will slip or even fall off, making it impossible to record in an emergency.
Professional body cam providers not only have a great deal of expertise with regard to the cameras, but also develop suitable accessories tailored to the user. Often there are also cooperations with other specialist companies, for example, to be able to offer holders with special requirements. Consequently, professional providers are characterized by their extensive and customer-oriented (technical) support. As a German body cam developer, NetCo even offers its customers fast and expert help in the local language.
What Are “Consumer Body Cams” Good For?
Body cams that can be purchased by consumers either do not have the data protection regulations at all or not completely. Many cameras offered on the internet have no accompanying software, and videos can be played and deleted on the device itself. If software is available, there are often few setting options: user, rights and role distribution settings are missing.
In addition, it should be noted that there is usually no customer service or only foreign-language customer service for “consumer body cams” if problems arise.
Consequently, a “consumer body cam” cannot be used for documentation and de-escalation of conflict and dangerous situations due to the mentioned weaknesses.
Our customer service is often asked whether body cams can be used to collect evidence in neighborhood conflicts, for example. For private individuals, the following applies: in public places, the cameras may be worn. “Permanent” filming is not permitted, however. In addition, persons being filmed must express consent before the recording begins. Recording without prior consent may result in legal consequences.
Consequently, the use of consumer body cams is aimed at documenting sports and other hobby activities where other people are not filmed.
Security services should urgently refrain from “consumer body cams” in order to be able to comply with the data protection requirements of a body cam deployment. In addition, you benefit from customizable accessories and expert (technical) support when using professional body cams.