A landmark ruling means that residents with a Ring doorbell camera could face fines after a judge ruled that one of the devices “unjustifiably invaded” a person’s privacy.
Dr Mary Fairhurst claimed she had to move out of her Oxfordshire home because neighbour Jon Woodard.
Key was the court hearing that the cameras – of which four had been placed around the property – had a wide field of vision that extended beyond just Mr Woodard’s property. Dr Fairhurst believed that the Ring doorbell put her under constant surveillance.
Judge Melissa Clarke said Mr Woodard had breached the 2018 Data Protection Act and UK GDPR and stated the footage and pictures of Dr Fairhurst are her personal data.
Mr Woodard insisted that the four fitted devices – two of which he claims are dummies – were put in place to deter thieves who attempted to steal his car in 2019.
The judge ruled that the camera doorbell breached data protection laws and caused harassment to a neighbour.
In a hearing next week, Mr Woodard is expected to be forced to pay damages to Dr Fairhurst of up to £100,000.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Judge Clarke said: “I am satisfied that on many occasions it [the shed camera] had a very wide field of view and captured the claimant’s personal data as she drove in and out of the car park.”
She also said that Mr Woodard “sought to actively mislead the claimant about how and whether the cameras operated and what they captured”.
“I am satisfied that the extent of range to which these devices can capture audio is well beyond the range of video that they capture, and in my view cannot be said to be reasonable for crime prevention,” she said.
The landmark ruling may cause people to reconsider their use of the cameras and surveillance systems around their homes.
In response, Mr Woodard said: “I feel for the tens of thousands of homeowners with ring home security who could now be targeted in the same manner I have.”
What are Ring doorbells?
Ring doorbells are owned by Amazon and are a home appliance designed to increased security.
The owner of the doorbell, which features video and audio equipment, is able to respond to the person outside their property via an app.
A spokesman for Ring told the Daily Mail: “We strongly encourage our customers to respect their neighbours’ privacy and comply with any applicable laws when using their Ring device.
“We’ve put features in place across all our devices to ensure privacy, security, and user control remain front and centre – including customisable privacy zones to block out ‘off-limit’ areas, motion zones to control the areas customers want their Ring device to detect motion and audio toggle to turn audio on and off.”