UK judge rules Ring video doorbell breach of neighbor’s privacy

A British judge has ruled that a man who installed two Amazon Ring Doorbells in his home in Oxfordshire violated his neighbour’s privacy and owes her thousands of pounds in compensation.

The Daily Mail reports that Jon Woodard had installed two Ring Doorbell cameras in his home to protect his property along with two dummy devices he used to deter car thieves following a 2019 theft attempt.

The report says Woodard’s neighbor, a doctor who runs a holistic healthcare company, took him to court, claiming that the devices exposed her to ‘continuous visual surveillance’ and were ‘intrusive’. It turns out that Judge Melissa Clarke agreed:

A judge at Oxford County Court ruled that Jon Woodard’s use of his ring cameras violated data laws and that he had pursued a harassment during his dispute with Dr. Mary Fairhurst, who said she was forced to move out of her home in Thame because the WiFi-connected gadgets were ‘intrusive’.

He could now be ordered to pay a fine of up to £ 100,000 for putting the doctor under ‘continuous visual surveillance’, but the judge will still have to decide on the final amount of fines and damages.

All files or audio from the doorbells that include Dr. Fairhurst, is now considered her personal data and that Woodard had not stored the data in a “fair or transparent manner” as the data controller for this data. Moreover:

He had also “actively sought to mislead” Dr. Fairhurst on how the cameras worked and what data they captured.

Judge Clarke said Woodard had collected the doctor’s personal data by registering her beyond the boundaries of his property.

The judge said a camera in Mr Woodard’s driveway had been used to record his neighbor’s gate, garden and car park, but Mr Woodard said this unit was a dummy. The judge further argued that the doorbell’s sound area was “far beyond the video they are recording, and in my view it can not be said to be reasonable for crime prevention.”

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The judge ruled not only that Mr. Woodard owed his neighbor compensation, but that he should put “blink” on his cameras so they did not capture any of his neighbor’s property, and he has been ordered by the court to disable sound on the devices .

In response, Amazon-owned Ring said it encouraged its users to let people know they were being filmed using Ring stickers on their doors and windows. A spokesman said:

‘We strongly encourage our customers to respect the privacy of their neighbors and comply with all applicable laws when using their Ring device.

‘We have introduced features across all our devices to ensure that privacy, security and user control remain at the forefront and center – including customized privacy zones to block’ off-limit ‘areas, motion zones to control the areas customers want their call device to detect movement and Sound Switch to turn sound on and off. ‘

Ring doorbells, like many of the best HomeKit video doorbells on offer, can be used to answer the door, even when a resident is not home. They also have a security application, but most have camera, microphone and surveillance systems.

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