security cameras and privacy laws

Do your home security cameras comply with privacy laws?

There’s no doubt that CCTV security cameras offer an effective solution when it comes to protecting your property; not only to catch criminals in the act but deter them in the first place. 96% of the UK’s 5.2 million CCTV cameras are operated by homeowners and private businesses, demonstrating how many people feel they add value and peace of mind. However it isn’t a case of simply installing them; there are many data protection laws to consider in order to ensure you respect the privacy of your neighbours and pedestrians. While your only intention might be to protect your property, others might feel you are intruding on their privacy, making them feel uncomfortable in their own home. There’s a fine line that needs to be met. So, do your home security cameras comply with privacy laws?

It’s critical to understand the importance of complying with data laws, as complaints can quickly escalate. In October 2021, Dr Mary Fairhurst won a privacy case in court after claiming her neighbour’s Ring doorbell and security cameras broke data laws, amounting to harassment. It was deemed that Jon Woodard’s systems – which captured both audio and video footage – oversaw her house, the majority of her garden and her parking space. The judge ruled that this was in breach of multiple data laws – including the UK Data Protection Act and UK GDPR – and issued Mr Woodard with a substantial fine. It has raised further discussion about changing attitudes towards domestic CCTV surveillance and the importance of abiding by privacy laws.

How to install and use home CCTV systems responsibly

If you’ve established that a private CCTV security system is the best option for your home security, then it’s important to consider a number of preliminary steps before installation. Establish what areas you’ll want it to cover and whether there is any risk of capturing footage beyond the boundaries of your property. It could be beneficial to notify your neighbours of your plan to install any CCTV too, allaying any fears and providing reassurance upfront. Showing this courtesy could go a long way to preventing any problems.

How to ensure your home security cameras comply with privacy laws

Many of us choose to have CCTV installed around our homes to protect our family and property; this is acceptable as long as everything is done to ensure you are respecting the privacy of others. The only time your CCTV security systems will be in breach of The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Act Protection 2018 (DPA18) will be if you capture footage of anything beyond the boundaries of your private domestic property, such as your neighbours garden or a public footpath. However, realistically, for the majority of homes it would be incredibly hard not to capture footage of areas beyond their boundaries. Don’t worry, there are measures you can take to mitigate this.

What are my legal obligations if my CCTV captures images outside of my property?

If your home CCTV security system is capturing footage outside of the boundaries of your property, you’re not instantly breaking the law. However, it does mean that your use of the system is subject to data protection laws and that, as the owner, you are the data controller. It’s critical that you’re able to demonstrate that you’re capturing – and storing – this data in a way that complies with these regulations and respects the rights of anyone who’s image you capture.

cctv signs

How do I demonstrate my CCTV systems are complying with data protection laws?

Of course, everyone is different. Some neighbours will be unconcerned by the introduction of CCTV cameras, whereas others can instantly become uncomfortable. Think about why you’ve decided to fit the cameras and be prepared to justify your reason for having them there. This can often help allay any fears with suspicious neighbours if you have a clear reason. However, there are also a number of other ways you can ensure you’re obeying the law.

Signs & Notices

It’s important to notify people by means of sticker – or sign – that video and audio surveillance is in place. Not only will it deter potential criminals, but it’ll also show neighbours, pedestrians and anyone else that you have nothing to hide and that you have clearly made everyone aware of CCTV presence on your property.

Data Storage

Ensuring footage is stored, maintained and deleted inline with data protection rules is vital. First of all, you shouldn’t capture any footage that isn’t needed for security purposes and where you are holding footage, it shouldn’t be kept for any longer than required. In general, the majority of CCTV users keep their footage for 31 days, as stated by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office. It’s important to respect the rights and wishes of the individual’s images you’ve captured, so it’s advised to delete footage when asked. Of course, if a criminal investigation or legal matter is ongoing, you’re within your rights to retain the footage but you must let them know. They’re then able to challenge this with the court or the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). You must respond to Subject Access Requests (SARs) and consider if you have any objections from certain individuals about capturing their image in future.

What are the consequences if my home CCTV systems breach privacy laws?

As with the case of Dr Fairhurst and Mr Woodard, there is the potential for serious consequences if you’re not aware of – and complying with – the latest data protection regulations. An ICO enforcement could result in being fined or taken to court by the complainant. We highly recommend taking every precaution to ensure your systems are compliant, avoiding any potential conflict whilst still protecting your property.

So do your home security cameras comply with privacy laws? If your answer is no, then there is no need to panic, just ensure you follow the steps above to make sure that you are protecting the privacy of your neighbours, as well as the safety of your family and property.

Here at SecurePro, we offer a comprehensive range of residential and commercial CCTV solutions. We understand the importance of keeping you and your property safe whilst also ensuring the privacy of your neighbours is respected. Our expert team is here to help in any way that they can. Contact us today on 01384 378300 to discuss with our experts about how we can help you.

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