A 45-year-old man from Oxfordshire could be forced to pay his neighbour £100,000 after a judge ruled his Amazon-owned "Ring" smart doorbell, which included a microphone and built-in camera, broke data laws and breached privacy.
The Amazon-owned doorbells allow absent homeowners to watch and talk to visitors through a smartphone app, using the built-in camera and microphone.
The owner of the device, Audio-Visual Technician, John Woodward, claimed to have installed the product after his car was almost stolen from outside his home in 2019. However, his neighbour Doctor Fairnhurst argued the device did nothing but place her under constant, non-consensual video surveillance.
Oxford County judge, Melissa Clarke, has ruled that John had breached provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018, the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Common Information Coverage Law.
She also argues that the pictures and audio captured on the four Ring devices installed outside John’s home, classed as Dr Fairhurt’s personal data, were being unlawfully processed. Part of this data included audio capture, with the devices’ ability to capture conversations at a range of up to 20m deemed excessive.
The device was found to be capturing images of the claimant’s house, garden and parking space.
In response, Ring has advised device owners to respect their neighbour’s privacy and ensure people know they are being filmed by putting Ring stickers on their doors and windows.
The outcome of this court case could have a significant impact on the home security industry. Will installers and engineers fitting home surveillance devices be required to ensure they have a greater understanding of data protection law, for instance?
Ahmet Deveci, Director of installation company CCTV Aware, added: “With the recent ruling by Judge Clarke regarding DPA and GDPR, it is a reminder that professional CCTV installers should be advising their end-users of the legal implications surrounding privacy when specifying and installing a surveillance product, be it for home or business use.”