Debate Sparked Over Doorbell Camera Harassment Ruling
A judge’s ruling over a doorbell camera amounting to harassment has sparked debate across the country.
Jon Woodard, from Thame, Oxfordshire, could be forced to pay £100,000 in damages after Judge Melissa Clarke of Oxford County Court ruled his Ring Doorbell had breached the Data Protection Act 2018, as well as the General Data Protection Regulation.
His neighbour, Dr. Mary Fairhurst, felt the cameras – which Woodard installed in 2019 after his car was nearly stolen – were so ‘intrusive’ that she moved out, feeling like she was under ‘continuous visual surveillance’.
More than 100,000 people across the UK are estimated to own Ring Doorbells, with many worried this ruling will set a precedent for others seeking similar compensation.
‘To now be told these are harassment devices feels like a joke and I myself feel like I am being harassed. Many of my neighbours have cameras and smart doorbells,’ Woodard said, as per the MailOnline, adding that he was ‘extremely disappointed and shocked’.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, appeared on Good Morning Britain to defend the ruling, saying it’s important for people to have control of their rights when others are filming beyond the bounds of their property. ‘If you’re in that situation where somebody is filming and recording you… it’s really important you do have those data rights,’ she said.
On the other hand, tech journalist Will Guyatt said, ‘You are automatically assuming the worst of everybody who is using those cameras… I can speak personally for myself, I definitely don’t spend time at what my neighbours are doing and in fact, my neighbours have often asked me for footage from my cameras, if they’re concerned somebody has pulled up outside their house.’
Guyatt added there’s a ‘real discussion to be had about this’ because the rules ‘clearly aren’t being flagged clearly enough’ and there’s software which would allow owners to set the boundary of their recordings so it technically wouldn’t intrude on others.
Social media users are mixed on the doorbells. Some agree they give people peace of mind, with one user writing, ‘I’m wheelchair bound and it takes me sometime five minutes to get to the door by which that time the person has gone. These doorbells are so important for me to ask the person to wait a while. Such a life line to me.’
Others believe they’re intrusive and are basically CCTV, which you have to make people aware of by law. ‘You are allowed to record outside your boundary but then you are open to DSARs. If you don’t comply, then you have broken data protection laws,’ one user wrote.
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