Reuters International

BERLIN (Reuters) - A decision by a German court to accept footage from a dashcam as the sole evidence to convict a driver who drove through a red light sparked a debate in the media on Friday about privacy and surveillance.

A court in the town of Reutlingen fined the man 200 euros (154.35 pounds) and banned him from driving for a month after he was caught on someone else's dashcam - the only evidence of the offence.

A higher court in Stuttgart this week upheld the conviction on appeal.

Surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany because of extensive snooping by the Stasi secret police in Communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era.

Revelations by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden about wide-ranging espionage in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) caused public outrage when they first surfaced three years ago.

"After the court decision, might amateur 'sheriffs' now feel empowered to film and report people behaving badly?" the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote in a front page article on Friday.

German law forbids continuous filming in public places, which means that drivers are theoretically not allowed to leave their dashcams running for hours at a time. However, the law is almost impossible to enforce.

(Reporting by James Swaden; Editing by Joseph Nasr and Louise Ireland)

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