Smart doorbells are a great invention. But as useful as they are, these devices do raise concerns of privacy breaches. And this is because, with them, homeowners can spy on people, even if they are on their own property. With that in mind, you need to ask yourself this question; are smart doorbells a breach of privacy? What laws are being broken? And what are the repercussions? You should know. So let’s look into the matter.
UK Smart Doorbell Court Case
Smart Ring doorbells could breach privacy rules and you could be fined £100,000.
Judge Melissa Clarke at Oxford County Court has ruled that a Smart Ring doorbell is a breach of privacy after Dr Mary Fairhurst took her neighbour, John Woodward to court. According to Fairhurst, the Smart Ring doorbells were "intrusive" and forced her to move out of her home as she was under "constant surveillance " by Mr Woodward.
It is important to note that Smart doorbells and other smart home products are protected under the Data Protection Act 2018. Mr Woodward installed four of the devices around his house and the judge has ruled that his actions breached Data Protection Act 2018 as well as UK GDPR rules and caused "harassment" to his neighbour, Dr Mary Fairhurst.
Judge Clarke ruled that the images and audio files that were captured of Dr Fairhurst on the smart ring devices were deemed to be her personal data. Dr Fairhurst will be awarded £100,000 in damages at a court hearing next month.
Are Smart Doorbells Breaking The Law?
The short answer is no. Smart Doorbells do not technically break any law as long as it doesn't invade the privacy of anyone. In the above case, it was clearly a violation of the law. The UK court case saw the defendant’s possession of Smart Ring devices as going beyond the “legitimate interests” of data collection and personal protection of his home with a key focus on the audio captured by the devices.
A Ring spokesperson said: “We strongly encourage our customers to respect their neighbours' privacy and comply with any applicable laws when using their Ring device. We’ve put features in place across all our devices to ensure privacy, security, and user control remain front and centre – including customisable Privacy Zones to block out "off-limit" areas, Motion Zones to control the areas customers want their Ring device to detect motion and Audio Toggle to turn audio on and off."
So, if you're concerned that your security setup could violate the law, there are a few precautions you can take. By adjusting the doorbell's settings and enabling the 'Privacy Zone' option, you can block out areas deemed off-limits. You can also disable the doorbell's Audio Toggle to prevent it from recording conversations.