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DPC warns about use of CCTV outside private homes after over 150 complaints in past year

Most complaints are mainly about neighbours who operate either a CCTV system or smart doorbell.

Image: Shutterstock/Sensay

THE DATA PROTECTION Commission has warned householders about the use of CCTV cameras outside their home after receiving over 150 complaints on the issue in the past year.

The DPC said CCTV cameras installed in homes should only capture images within the perimeter of the homeowner’s property to avoid potential criminal or civil proceedings.

It also advised householders to make themselves aware of their legal obligations from the use of CCTV systems.

The data watchdog said it received a significant number of complaints every year relating to the use of domestic CCTV by individuals, including over 150 in the past 12 months, which took up a considerable use of its resources.

Most complaints are mainly about neighbours who operate either a CCTV system or smart doorbell.

The DPC said many disputes tended to be about wider issues between neighbours “often involving allegations of assault, trespass or anti-social behaviour and frequently involving An Garda Síochána”.

It said no further action can be taken in relation to complaints which involve disputes over rights of way or title to land until they are determined by an appropriate authority.

The DPC said there were also disputes about the use of CCTV in apartment blocks which contained shared entrances and parking spaces which were not adjacent to the home.

Other cases involved dummy cameras which the DPC said did not give rise to data protection issues.

From its experience to date, the DPC said it believed many cases related to disputes between neighbours which would be better addressed through mediation between the parties.

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The DPC said many individuals who used CCTV and other types of surveillance technology in a domestic setting for the purpose of protecting their homes and property may not appreciate their obligations in relation to the rights of others with regard to privacy and data protection.

A landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 found that CCTV footage that captured images of a public footpath outside a private property breached data protection legislation, despite the householder using the system to identify individuals who had been attacking his home.

The watchdog said its starting point was whether the processing of personal data by such devices came within the scope of GDPR legislation which exempted the processing of any personal data conducted in a “purely personal or household activity”.

“In the sphere of CCTV, this would generally mean that as long as the images captured are within the perimeter of your own home and are only used for your personal purposes, the exemption is likely to apply,” the DPC said.

It said the operators of any CCTV cameras which captured images of people outside the perimeter of their property either had to adjust what images were captured or comply with data protection law.

About the author:

Seán McCárthaigh

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