Unlawful use of body cams in Stockholm’s public transport

21 June 2021 Sweden

The Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection (IMY) concludes that SL, who operate the public transport in Stockholm, has violated GDPR when equipping ticket inspectors with body cameras that record video and sound. The IMY issues an administrative fine against SL of SEK 16 million.

The IMY has investigated SL's use of body cameras. SL, who operates the public transport in Stockholm, has equipped ticket inspectors with body-worn cameras. The purpose of the cameras is to prevent threatening situations, to document incidents that have occurred and to ensure that the right person is fined for having travelled with public transport without a valid ticket.

The ticket controllers' cameras continuously record images and sounds that are stored for one minute, after which the material is over-written unless the ticket inspector presses the record button on the camera. The ticket controllers are instructed to wear the camera during their entire work shift and can thus potentially film all travellers who pass the inspector.

- In Stockholm's public transport, several hundred thousand people travel daily. This technology with continuous recording in practice means that a large number of travellers risk being monitored with both video and audio being recorded, says Jeanette Bladh Gustafson, lawyer at IMY's camera group.

The IMY states that the technology with body-worn cameras can be used to prevent and document threatening situations, but that the time for pre-recording needs to be reduced to a maximum of 15 seconds. However, the authority does not consider that the technology can be used to confirm  the identity of the person traveling without a valid ticket, where instead, for example, still images and no sound recording are sufficient.

The IMY also criticizes the fact that SL has failed to adequately inform about the camera surveillance, for example that not only video but also sound is being recorded.

- It is serious that SL does not inform about sound recordings because people using public transport in Stockholm cannot reasonably expect to have their conversations recorded.

The different shortcomings combined regarding how SL uses body cameras leads the IMY to issue an administrative fine of SEK 16 million.

For further information, please contact the Swedish DPA by email (imy@imy.se) or phone (+46-8-515 15 415).

The press release published here does not constitute official EDPB communication, nor an EDPB endorsement. This press release was originally published by the national supervisory authority and was published here at the request of the SA for information purposes. As the press release is represented here as it appeared on the SA's website or other channels of communication, the news item is only available in English or in the Member State's official language with a short introduction in English. Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to the supervisory authority concerned.