A dashcam or dashboard camera is an onboard camera that continuously records the view through a vehicle's windscreen. It may be attached to the interior windscreen or to the top of the dashboard, by suction cup or adhesive-tape mount. Dashcams may provide video evidence in the event of an accident.
By targeted field of view:exterior view (such as for recording the front view only, the back view, etc.)
cabin view (sometimes also called a "taxicam").
To ensure that recorded video files are not tampered with once they have been recorded, videos can be timestamped in a tamper-proof manner, a procedure termed trusted timestamping. One method for trusted timestamping video files involves immediately storing the unique hash of the file on the decentralized Blockchain of a cryptocurrency to securely prove its time of existence.
Dashcams are widespread in Russia as a guard against police corruption and insurance fraud, where they provide additional evidence. They have been called "ubiquitous" and "an on-line obsession", and are so prevalent that dashcam footage was the most common footage of the February 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor, which was documented from at least a dozen angles. Thousands of videos showing automobile and aircraft crashes, close calls, and attempts at insurance fraud have been uploaded to social sharing websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Yandex, and other websites.
In the UK, sales of dash cams rocketed in 2015 according to data from independent retail analysts GfK, which showed that dash cams were the fastest growing consumer electronic, with sales increasing by 395%. As of March 2016, separate GfK stats show that Nextbase’s range of dash cams accounts for more than 68 per cent of this market by volume and 73 per cent by value.
While dashcams are gaining in popularity in many parts of Asia, Europe (particularly UK, France and Russia), Australia and the US, they are forbidden by law in Austria, where they carry heavy fines. In Switzerland, their use is strongly discouraged in public space as they may contravene data protection principles. In Germany, while small cameras for personal use in vehicles are allowed, posting footage from them on social-media sites is considered a violation of privacy and thus forbidden. Dashcam footage may only be used in exceptional cases as evidence in a German court. In Luxembourg, it is not illegal to possess a dashcam but it is illegal to use one to capture videos or still images in a public place (which includes in a vehicle on a public road). Recording using a dashcam may result in a fine or imprisonment. In Australia recording on public roadways is allowed as long as the recording does not infringe upon one's personal privacy in a way that may be deemed inappropriate in a court of law.
In the United States, at the federal level, "the video taping of public events is protected under the First Amendment" right. Videotaping of non-public events and videotaping-related issues, including sound recording and matters related to time of the day, venue, manner of recording, privacy concerns, implications on motor vehicle moving violation issues (such as whether the windshield view is being blocked), etc., are dealt with at the state level. In the state of Maryland, for example, it is illegal to record anybody's voice without their consent, but it is legal to record without the other party's consent if the non-consenting party does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the conversation that is being recorded. In other states, including Illinois and Massachusetts, it is always illegal regardless of whether or not there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, and in such states the person doing the recording would always be in violation of the law. In Illinois, a law was passed that makes it illegal to record law enforcement officers even while in the performance of their public official duties.
Police departments use dashcams in police vehicles to gather evidence during traffic stops and car chases. Some dash cam systems can be automatically activated when a police car's emergency lights or siren are turned on. Freedom of information laws mean that the footage can be released under some circumstances, and this can be an important tool in reporting on police actions. TV shows like World's Wildest Police Videos have frequently featured car chase videos shot from dashcams.
Some police officers accused of police brutality tamper with their cameras to disable audio or video recording. In Chicago, 80% of the police dashcams did not work properly. Among the causes were that officers destroyed antennas, hid microphones, and removed batteries.