A Ring doorbell owner could be facing a £100,000 fine after a judge ruled that his use of a Ring camera doorbell broke data protection laws and caused harassment.
The case is a landmark decision and could pave the way for thousands of lawsuits relating to the Amazon-owned device, with the incident serving as a warning to those who use similar devices.
Dr Mary Fairhurst said that she had to move out of her home in because of the doorbells her neighbour, Jon Woodard, had installed, Wales Online reports.
She added that the four devices fitted around his house meant that she was under constant surveillance.
Camera doorbells detect motion and allow you to see who is at your door when they press the button.
Judge Melissa Clarke concluded the court hearing by saying that Jon had breached the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR, adding that the images and video of Mary are her personal data.
The door cameras had a wide field of vision and captured images and audio outside of Jon’s property, the court heard.
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.”
At a court hearing next month, Dr Fairhurst could be awarded damages which could amount to as much as £100,000.
Robin Knox, home security expert and co-founder of www.Boundary.co.uk told Wales Online: “Although camera-based home security systems can be an efficient deterrent for burglars, they do come with their risks, and privacy is one of them.
As seen in this case, it was ruled that the doorbell cameras were too invasive, so it’s important that people reassess their existing methods of home security to make sure it’s not impacting on the lives of others.
Robin advised that due to the camera’s motion sensor and overlaying person detection it is important that buyers “look for systems that include privacy masking to avoid recording outside of the boundary of the home.”
He added: “Otherwise, signage would be required as well as compliance with GDPR data management regulations. Motion detection zones can also be set up to reduce false alerts.
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The home security expert said that “not only should a home security system flag legitimate threats of break-ins, but they should also then proceed to provide follow-through protection, such as automatic police response.
“Self-monitored cameras might initially seem useful and exciting but it can be hard to always be on-duty when at work, on holiday or asleep.”
He did acknowledge that “a professionally monitored system from a recognisable brand makes it more likely that your intruder will be initially deterred, cause less damage and ultimately increase the likelihood of being caught, thanks to a swift and reliable 24/7 response.
He advised that residents look out for “systems that have BS EN 50131 tested motion sensors, and only buy from companies who can offer a Grade 2 installation, Police URN, and are accredited by one of the two industry bodies (SSAIB or NSI).
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