A UK judge has ruled that a man using Amazon’s ring doorbell without prior consent violated his neighbor’s privacy.
According to Guardian, John Woodard installed a ring doorbell camera in front of his home and another security camera in front of the side yard to prevent burglars after a car break-in. However, Woodward failed to disclose the cameras to his neighbor, Dr. Mary Fairhurst. Fairhurst reported being “panicked and terrified” when he realized that Woodard had recordings and his voice was available on his smartphone. Fairhurst eventually left his home after an argument between the two over his camera.
Oxford County Court Judge Melissa Clark ruled that Woodard violated the UK General Data Protection Regulation. Data Protection Act of 2018, Which states that “domestic premises owners and residents should be consulted if domestic premises demarcate the designated area for viewing.” Clark further said that the data and security devices of Fairhurst, the video and audio captured by the ring doorbell and the camera, contributed to the harassment.
For his part, Woodard maintained his sole purpose behind installing the camera to protect it from thieves. His overall fine could be 100,000 or about 7 137,000.
While this incident is not a landmark in the UK, it is an example of what happens when privacy laws are enforced. It is hard to imagine similar judgments being handed down in the United States, where there is a lack of broad privacy regulations like in the United Kingdom or the EU, but just as companies have to change the way cookies are collected to comply with EU GDPR rules (a change that the U.S. (Internet users affected in the United States), hardware manufacturers will eventually have to create more privacy protections in their home surveillance products.
Amazon told the Guardian that it encourages its customers to visually respect their neighbor’s privacy and “comply with any applicable law” when using ring products. The ring has camera privacy settings, such as the ability to turn off sound recording with motion zones, allowing you to choose which parts of the camera preview should be considered for recording.
General courtesy, if your cameras are pointed at someone else’s property – your neighbor’s face and car license plates are occasionally framed – you need to let them know. The whole point of these cameras though is to help you see the people around your home. Maybe they are criminals, but usually they are just your neighbors. In this age of surveillance, security cameras make everyone a potential suspect.