Court rules that Ring video doorbell invaded neighbor’s privacy

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A judge in the UK has ruled that a homeowner’s Ring video doorbell invaded his neighbor’s privacy in a court case that could have major implications for how smart security cameras are designed and used.

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The owner of the home, which installed a smart doorbell and another security camera, John Woodard of Oxfordshire, UK, faced a substantial fine after a judge upheld the claim of his neighbor, Dr Mary Fairhurst, that the video and audio of the doorbell Recording facilities broke data laws and may have contributed to harassment (via BBC News).

Woodard insisted that his home security system was intended to deter thieves and intruders. However, the judge said the defendant’s Ring Video Doorbell had captured images of Fairhurst’s home and the surrounding area, and recorded the audio automatically — a feature that could not be turned off at the time. Before firmware update.

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In her ruling, Judge Melissa Clark said: “Personal data can be taken from people who are not even aware that the device is there, or that it records and processes audio and personal data.”

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Judge Clark ruled that Woodard’s use of the Ring Doorbell and home security system was in violation of both the UK Data Protection Act and the UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

While the matter may have wider implications for the home security appliance industry, it appears to be something different.

Privacy expert Hannah Hart at security advisory Proprivacy told Nerdshala: “The defendants had excessively installed cameras on their property, including a garden, a shed and even their neighbor’s wall. This is an extensive amount of surveillance that is far more than necessary. is more to monitor a property, and calls into question the defendant’s intent.

“Another prime mover that resulted in a £100,000 fine relates to the Ring Doorbell’s audio recording capabilities.

“Ring doorbells are capable of listening in and recording conversations taking place more than 40 feet away. These audio recordings, combined with CCTV footage, show how the defendant effectively created a surveillance zone within his community, where his Neighbors’ privacy was wiped out and deliberately violated under the auspices of combating local crime.

“Current users of the Ring should apply the following matter, which includes adjusting the doorbell settings and enabling the ‘Privacy Zone’ option, which may block areas deemed out of range. It is also possible to adjust the doorbell’s audio toggle to stop the recording of conversations.

“Another good way to avoid being taken to court by your neighbors is to be honest about the amount of cameras in use, and ultimately respect their wishes for privacy, to be raised as an issue.” needed.”


Analysis: Should Ring Doorbell Owners Be Worried?

While the matter is likely to raise some eyebrows in the rapidly growing home security appliance industry, and will likely concern many homeowners who use smart doors and other cameras, it is unlikely to be entirely raised. That’s how manufacturers think about the design of smart doors and cameras.

A Ring spokesperson told Nerdshala: “We encourage our customers to respect the privacy of their neighbors and to comply with any applicable laws when using their Ring devices.

“We put features front and center across all of our devices to ensure privacy, security and user control – including customizable privacy zones to block “off-limits” areas, Motion Zones to control those areas.” For customers who want to ring their device for motion detection and audio toggle to turn audio on and off.”

While the matter is unlikely to cause problems for a large number of homeowners, there are some precautions you can take, even if you are concerned that your security setup may violate the law. For one, the audio on Ring doorbells can now be toggled on, meaning the device will no longer record or monitor audio from its surroundings. You can also adjust the field of view and camera angle in your Ring Doorbell’s settings, limiting its coverage to just your property.

However, if this decision leads to a large number of similar cases, manufacturers will eventually be forced to redesign both the hardware and firmware of their devices to better comply with data protection laws in the UK and other countries. can go.

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