You have probably recently heard about the privacy row case over a smart doorbell with a camera. The landmark ruling has made a lot of people wonder if they could face a fine too, so let’s look at the Ring doorbell case a bit closer.
The Ring doorbell case
Dr Mary Fairhurst alleged that the smart doorbell installed on her neighbour’s house broke data laws and ultimately the court also defended the claim that the devices contributed to harassment.
The smart Ring doorbells, which can be remotely accessed via an app, were found to have captured images and audio files from Mary Fairhurst’s house, garden, and parking space. The ruling showed that the doorbells, which were all installed around Jon Woodard’s house, had captured conversations at ranges of between 40 to 68 ft away.
This was seen as excessive and unnecessary since the court was informed that these smart devices were simply installed to prevent crime by Jon Woodard. Dr Fairhurst won the privacy row and the judge stated that the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation had been breached, resulting in a £100,000 fine.
How can you avoid invading your neighbour’s privacy?
After reading the above case you might already understand where Jon Woodard went wrong and invaded Dr Fairhurst’s privacy, but here are a few things you should consider if you have CCTV or doorbell cameras:
- Check if your doorbell is recording audio and how far away can it record conversations.
- Check the range of video recording on your device, and make sure it doesn’t record beyond your home. It should not look into your neighbours’ windows, gardens or even invade their property line.
- Add stickers to alert neighbours of the use of CCTV.
- Consult with your neighbours before the installation of your doorbells and smart cameras.
- Check if the device settings are activated to automatically capture or record audio, video, or images.
- You should have valid reasons for saving the video, image, and audio files.
If your doorbell’s camera overlooks and records a neighbour’s house, unfortunately, a lawsuit can be brought against you, even in the case of the camera automatically being activated.
Cameras are a very good and cheap security measure for homeowners; however, individuals need to ensure that they are using them rightfully.
Please get in touch if you need more information and legal advice.