Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Man raises privacy concerns after car dealership employee turns off his dashcams (cbc.ca)
36 points by corny 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

There have been a number of headlines resulting from dashcams catching mechanics joyriding or otherwise abusing cars after they have been dropped off. Here is an example (also from Canada) that went viral last year: https://jalopnik.com/canadian-mercedes-dealership-caught-on-...

This isn’t a privacy concern, it’s rather a trust concern. He may not trust the mechanics. On the other hand, I can see the mechanics having a privacy concern, unless he made them sign some legalise along the lines of allowing him to record them while they serviced the vehicle.

The second half of the article explains the privacy part; the worker deleted the videos taken at the dealership, which meant they had to look through the videos to find the correct one to delete.

I find it interesting, though, that the owner doesn’t worry about the privacy rights of the mechanic to not be filmed on the job.

Based on personal experience I would happily support legislation that allows vehicle owners to record or supervise mechanics.

Pro tip: ask to see any parts that were “replaced” on your vehicle.

They can just show you any part they want as long as it’s plausible. If they’re gojng to be dishonest about parts they might as well have the previous car’s parts avail., or just go ahead say your part is bad even if it’s still got milage on it left.

Agreed. Now, if I was given any (expensive) parts replaced, then it would be a bit more credible. Otherwise, they could have a whole box of 'replaced parts' that they routinely show customers as a to operate their fraud. But they won't let you take them; their excuse will be that they will be recycled as 'core'.

It raises the bar in a reasonable manner. You’re the paying customer, after all.

If you have to ask to see the parts being replaced at a branded dealer, BMW in this case, then you need to find a new dealer. In my experience the big dealers and especially luxury ones do no do this. The ones without a brand in the name and have something like “Luxury Motor” are the ones that do this.

I was quoted $15,000.00 in unnecessary repairs to my BMW by the local BMW dealer. A local shop with a generic name fixed the problem for $200.00. The dealer installed new spark plugs with improper gaps and charged me to replace fuel injectors and coils but the installed parts were revisions that had been obsolete for years. Either the dealer installed the wrong part or did no work at all.

BMW dealers are NOT inherently trustworthy.

Agreed on needing to find a new dealer, I will only buy another BMW if I move to a state with a trustworthy dealer. Unfortunately Washington has none.

BMWs MO has always been to just replace everything vs fixing a part. I had a belt tensioner out and they wanted to completely upgrade the belt system to a newer one that was more reliable. It was a sub $200 part vs a $3000 fix.

Expensive and probably unnecessary but I seriously doubt they would do fishy things to parts that required an inspection by the customer.

You don’t understand. There was nothing wrong with my car. They screeed up a basic maintenance task (new spark plugs) and caused a computer code for a misfire. They misdiagnosed this as a bent valve and told me I needed a new head. In reality I needed two spark plugs gapped.

I understand throwing parts at a problem but they misdiagnosed a simple issue so badly that I suspect malice.

Typically the batteries on these devices don't last very long unless it's hooked to the car battery. There's zero reason for the mechanic to go through the property of a client. I'd sue the hell out of that company for doing that. It would be similar to an employee at a computer store going through your computer looking for racy photos. That's not their job. Disconnecting the camera would make me never bring my car to that place again as I wouldn't trust the mechanic.

Not sure where you work, but would you be ok if your employer wanted to hook up a video camera to watch you work all day?

Even then you need to give your employer consent to record you via whatever contract you sign with them.

Work at a big company?

We have video cameras on every floor, at every entrance, and ones that generally can capture the view of nearly everyone’s desk (one that captures multiple aisles not specific desks).

These are only used if there are “security” reasons to review them, in theory.

Those roll over usually monthly. Mainly entrance exits are actively watched, or those with an “alarm” state. No one will watch those other interior ones unless there is reason to (property loss, altercation, etc., for evidentiary, legal purposes).

You are also made aware of this. It’s not snuck up on you.

I agree it's not snuck up on you.

It's trivial today for those tertiary video cameras to collect meta data directly (Changes) or with inference (facial recognition) to see who goes where.

For you to suggest no one will watch them begs the question that the meta data isn't collected. It may not be, but it might.

So a video camera that's not watched by humans 'wittingly' may still be collecting privacy decreasing data.

i work at a small company and i literally have a camera pointed specifically at my desk (all other desks are monitored as well). it's degrading but i don't think anyone watches the videos unless there's an hr or disciplinary reason to.

Why don’t you ask the people at Bridgewater?

Ok, it’s audio, not video… but it’s still recording.

The FBI used to (and may still) pay Best Buy employees to go through your photos on the offchance that they contqined child porn.

Seems like the privacy rights of the dealership and their workers have been transgressed.

In what way?

There was no expectation of being recorded on the job. Car maintenance and repair isn't performance art. The recording was done secretly.

If you're an employee whose every action is going to be broadcast to the world, your job gets a whole lot worse. You have to start acting like a public face of the company.

The guy making the videos would be a good customer to fire.

Right, the only places you don't really have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" is where you can be seen from public view, or a government building. For instance, it's not illegal for me to take naked pics of someone in their house if 1) I am not trespassing 2) I am on public land (ie street/sidewalk). If their blinds aren't closed, that's on them. A private company is not public. The private company can have cameras on their property recording their employees, though, just like you can install cameras in your private residence and record guests. Do all guests know they're being recorded by your home security system? Most likely not.

The correct thing to do in this case though would be for the dealership to call the customer and state that they won't do work on a car with recording equipment running and he needs to come turn it off, or ask permission if they can turn it off. They should, of course, have a written policy to handle this and not do it on the fly.

> For instance, it's not illegal for me to take naked pics of someone in their house

Is it true?

If you include the rest of what I said, yes. You have to be on public property (or your own property - not trespassing on private property) when taking the pic.

How would I be invading your privacy if you are standing in front of your unobstructed window naked and I can see you from the street? If I'm on the street, I can take legally pics of anything I can see. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy, unless you close your blinds.

Edit, link: https://legalbeagle.com/8608636-laws-being-photographed-perm...

A clarification:

> Be a little careful however if you are using a telephoto lens. Just because your feet are on public land doesn't mean that you can shoot into private property.

I agree, I would fire the customer.

That said I was asking OP what privacy laws he thinks were violated.

Federal and state wiretapping laws, most likely. Sometimes they are rather ambiguous, and states vary.

California is apparently one of the most restrictive two party consent jurisdictions. That is basically that everybody has to consent to a conversation being recorded or the act of recording is illegal. I'm pretty sure this would apply to surveillance cameras inside cars while they are being worked on.

This article is about an incident in Toronto, which is subject to Canadian federal and Ontario provincial law.

As an example if it recorded audio (I'd guess not) then recording a private conversation between two mechanics would presumably fail the one party consent standard in Canada. I'm not sure if video only has the same standard but it may.

It's single party consent, the party recording doesn't have to be present. If at least one of the people present at any time are aware of the recording device they grant consent by choosing to work on the vehicle, the same way you grant consent to recording by walking on the premises of a business with overt cameras.

Thanks, this is the discussion I was looking to have. I just have an interest in privacy law, I am not advocating what the person in the article did.

I don't really think seeing a camera is consent. Or that putting a running camera in a workplace makes you a "party".

If I pick up a phone and call a service center, they tell me they are recording the call. Obviously a phone has a microphone, because I am talking into it doesn't mean I consent to being recorded; my default expectation is that I am speaking unrecorded to another human not stored except for the necessities of transmission.

In Canada any party on a phone call can record without the consent or awareness of other parties. In the case of calling customer service, the agent you end up speaking to is very likely not the one actually doing the recording, but they are aware of it, thus they fulfill the requirements of single party consent.

You are correct that placing a camera and not being present while it records does not make you a party, but if you make it clear (verbally, signage, blinking light from a camera on your windshield) that a camera is recording in your vehicle and they choose to work on it they are a consenting party.

The law says that you cannot record where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but that is meant to apply to places like bathrooms, change rooms, saunas and other similar places.

From what do you conclude that the recording was done secretly? If it was secret, how did the employee find and turn off the camera and why?

To not be recorded while working.

That's not a right granted by law.

Was not talking about legal rights.

What other rights are there and how would they be enforced? I think you mean to say it's morally wrong or unethical and I might agree in some circumstances.

You could argue that the owner was invading the dealership employee privacy by sending in a covert recording device.

Based on the photo in the article, it seems like it was not covert. If it was covert, how could they have turned it off? I would certainly acknowledge that the dealership should be notified that it was recording, but it doesn't seem clear that anything was sprung on them.

Dash cams are not covert..

Private surveillance e.g. nanny cams are legal in USA and Canada.


Only in certain applications.

To everyone claiming, that an employee has a right not to be recorded when working: in practice, he doesn't. There are security cameras on every floor in every office building. There are security cameras in every bar, restaurant, and gas station. And there are security cameras in every dealership, too.

The article is about Canada, but for EU law it wouldn't be a blanket rule that says that you may not be filmed while on the job, but rather that the filming must have a reasonable purpose. Filming the entrances for security reasons is such a reasonable purpose, but that means the footage may not be used for example to measure employee performance.

Your argument, and you see this nihilistic tendency often in privacy discussions, is also based on some strange notion that if your privacy has been violated once (and you didn't voice your disapproval), it may be acceptably violated again. I see no reason for this to be.

> Your argument

I'm not arguing that it's how it should be. I'm arguing that it's the way it is now in many parts of the world.

It would be a normal procedure to request the car's owner to disable the dashcam before the service, and not to agree to service the car with the dashcam on.

But no dealer has the right to turn off the dashcam himself.

Don't you think there is a difference between being recorded by your employer since you have signed a contract with them which probably has those points in it, and a random person you never met before recording you without you knowing about it?

Random people you never met before are recording you with their dashcams all the time in public places. If it was a problem at the dealership, the car owner should have been asked to turn off the dashcam before presenting the car, and no car should have been accepted for the service with the dashcam on.

> Random people you never met before are recording you with their dashcams all the time in public places

But dealership is not a public place.

No there are not cameras on every floor of every office building. It might be different for where you live but over here (the Netherlands) you can't needlessly film people. As an employer you cannot film your employees unless they have explicitly signed a contract that includes camera surveillance.

Additionally you are only allowed to use cameras for security purposes if you can make a case that there is no other way to protect yourself. And before you're in view of any camera it must have been stated explicitly, or the cameras must be obvious before you're being filmed.

I’m honestly more concerned for the mechanic :/

> "If the technician does decide that they want it off, we would notify the customer that it is going to be turned off … because we are totally transparent,"

That’s hilarious.

["If the technician does decide that they want it off, we would notify the customer that it is going to be turned off … because we are totally transparent," Safonov said.]

Turning off a security measure that protects property and documents that service billed actually did occur is not an indicator of procedural transparency.

This is standard practice at most dealers now.

You do NOT need video surveillance of your vehicle while it’s being repaired.

Why not? You're not allowed in the bays for "safety reasons" and numerous times covert recording devices have found shady business practices. Workers routinely have monitoring software on their workplace computers. Car dealerships are notorious for ripping people off. You're also not allowed to destroy someone else's property, which the video was, and you're definitely not allowed to go through someone else's property.

As an employee, you consented to be monitored at work by your employer when you signed your workplace agreements. The mechanic has not.

However, destroying the video files is inappropriate.

Set expectations. Tell them you're going to do it, and when they offer for you to take your business elsewhere, tell them too.

The problem is doing it in secret.

I am vaugely inclined to agree, but wanted a deeper argument... And I tried to express that and came up blank. Plenty of places of work have an expectation that the customer can come and go or simply stay while you work on their property - any home repairs, of course, but even cell phone repair shops will typically do it in front of you. Why not mechanics? There are strict laws already around what a mechanic does have to show you - you are able to request that they give you back any parts they replaced, for example. I don't see the issue if with a dashcam that's set to record while driving. Their tests seem reasonable things for you to observe.

I was initially with you, but on thought, why? This is worth arguing.

Why not? Can’t you imagine a scenario in which something happens to your car in the dealerships custody that you’d like to have video footage of?

Can't you imagine not wanting to be recorded while at work?

That's a two way street...

I can imagine not wanting to be covertly recorded but I would like the ability to record my mechanics work. I’ve been burned more than once.

Would cameras inside the car have really helped in that instance? I know most of the interesting work that has ever been done on a car for me would have been impossible to see with a dashcam.

I could see the value of being able to see someone working on your car, but only in the situation where it was explicitly agreed to beforehand. A) the employee has privacy rights, and B) if you really wanted footage that helped, you'd need to have cameras setup outside of the car, which would require help from the car shop.

I can't imagine wanting to be a mechanic in a shop that recorded me for the customers (I assume that there are cameras in place for security anyway). But I could see this being a real differentiator for a new auto shop -- You can trust us - you can watch us work on your car!

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact