UK Data Protection Laws Vs Doorbells

Who would have thought a doorbell would be headline news and affect Employment and GDPR Law in the UK? However a recent Court case has recently led to this situation.

Over the past few years security doorbells which enable home and business owners to view who is at their door remotely have increased in popularity.

‘Ring’ is one of the most popular brands on the market. These products can visually and audibly record outside the home or business in the provision of providing extra benefits to our homes, including additional security and the ability to speak to delivery drivers attempting to deliver our parcels.

These security doorbells have also proven to be a helpful addition during the recent Coronavirus Pandemic due to them removing face-to-face contact with the person at your door.

However, despite the benefits, a recent landmark case has brought into question the ways in which Ring products can in fact breach UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. This acts as an important reminder to homeowners, employers and businesses alike that it is important to have the appropriate signage when recording others. Employers and/or business owner may also need to have written policies in place.

In a recent case, a Judge in the Oxford County Court recently held that a homeowner had breached UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 after finding that not only was the visual and audio recording of his neighbour amounted to being her personal data, but in his role as ‘data controller’ failed to process her data in a ‘fair or transparent manner’.

A ‘data controller’ under GDPR essentially means that a legal person, either alone or jointly with others, can determine the purpose and means of processing personal data. The Judge found that even after his neighbour complained that the devices he had fitted around his property were intrusive and placed her under continuous visual surveillance to the point she felt she had to leave her home, the homeowner could not satisfy his compliance or reasoning regarding holding his neighbour’s personal data.

For many homeowners, the main reason for fitting devices such as a ‘Ring’ doorbell is to protect their property and to prevent crime. This was the argument made by the homeowner in this case, as he had previously had an incident where his car had been tried to be stolen. However, the Judge held that the devices that had captured images and audio of the neighbour’s property had infringed her privacy. The Judge also commented on the possibility of the devices recording and processing the personal data of individuals who do not know that the devices are there.

Despite fitting the devices in good faith, the homeowner in this case now risks having to pay a substantial fine as well as court costs and he has publicly said he may even lose his home and business.

This landmark case has raised concerns for those with devices such as ‘Ring’ doorbells and security cameras fitted around their property which may record and process the personal data of their neighbours and passers-by who have rights under UK Data Protection laws but also for other visitors which may include employees or customers.

The case also highlights the importance of having the appropriate signage and policies in place if you are processing an individual’s personal data whether that may be at your home or in the workplace, and informing individuals of the use of visual and audio recording in which they could be captured in.

Our friendly and professional team are here to help advise on a variety of GPDR issues. We provide a health check service to help you determine if you are compliant with GDPR.

Contact:

Amy Hallam
Head of Employment
t: 01246 564 012
e: amy.hallam@brmlaw.co.uk

Ellie Leatherday
Employment Solicitor
t: 01246 564002
e: ellie.leatherday@brmlaw.co.uk

Jessica Eyley
Trainee Legal Executive
t: 01246 560587
e: jessica.eyley@brmlaw.co.uk

Georgia Jeonney
Employment Paralegal
t: 01246 564035
e: georgia.jeonney@brmlaw.co.uk