Is your video doorbell illegal under GDPR?

The Data Protection Commission has handled over 150 complaints in the last year alone
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.52 24 Nov 2021

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Is your video doorbell illegal...

Is your video doorbell illegal under GDPR?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.52 24 Nov 2021

Share this article

A data expert says people need to be sure any devices they use at home - such as webcams or video doorbells - are not breaking GDPR rules.

It comes after the Data Protection Commission (DPC) says the use of recording devices by people to protect their property - including CCTV and smart doorbells - raise "a number of challenges for the regulation of the processing of personal data by the operators of these devices."

It says this also reflects "wider societal issues" with the accessibility to, and use of, surveillance technology by people who may not realise "their obligations in relation to the rights of others, including privacy and data protection rights".


The data watchdog says it has handled a significant number of complaints over the use of domestic CCTV by individuals.

It says in the last year alone, over 150 complaints related to this issue.

While it says there are often "wider issues" involved where data protection is not at the core of the dispute.

Katherine O'Keefe is director of education at data privacy consultancy firm Castlebridge.

She told The Hard Shoulder people must only ensure such devices are centred are on their own property.

"The main law that we are looking at is GDPR.

"The main question that most of you who have webcams for your home security, or doorbells that also have video attached, are using things under what you would call personal domestic use.

"If you're purely only recording within your own household, for your own domestic purposes - not using it for anything else - you don't necessarily fall within the requirements of complying with GDPR.

"There's what's called a domestic or household use exemption... but as soon as you start recording passers-by on the street, outside of your own property, you come under GDPR and you have to make sure you are compliant".

And she says others may have access to that data outside of your control.

"If you're using an Amazon Ring [doorbell] and that data is being processed by Amazon, they are storing it in their own servers.

"They're doing stuff - you have no idea what they're doing - that does end up being a problem with GDPR.

"One of the things we know Amazon does is they use all the data they get to train things like some of their AI stuff.

"That's not your personal domestic use, that's not something you decided to do - but when you buy one of those kinds of cameras, and you decide to put it there, you are ending up giving that data to those other companies.

"But generally, when you're only recording within your own personal property for security, then GDPR will not apply".

She says there is an onus on people to let others know they are being recorded as well as why, how long the recording will be kept and how to contact those who own the recording.

"If you think about the notifications that you get when you walk into a building that has CCTV running, and it says 'CCTV happening here, here's who to call'.

"That is a fair notice so that people understand what's happening to the data and how.

"If you're going to use a smart doorbell, that's something you need to consider: what do your neighbours feel like when it comes to that?

"Do you end up making people feel that they can't walk down the street with their dog because they're getting recorded?

"It's kind of inconsiderate to do that, aside from the legal questions".

But she says there are gaps in the law around the use of things like dashcams and GoPro devices.

"It's definitely a gap right now, and it's something that may end up being more of a regulatory issue.

"At the moment, we've got new technologies and we haven't necessarily figured out how to do things the right way.

"But that doesn't mean it's going to remain a regulatory gap there".

Is your video doorbell illegal under GDPR?

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Main image: A video doorbell and WiFi enabled camera is seen in June 2020. Picture by: Michael Ventura / Alamy Stock Photo

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Breaching GDPR Castlebridge Cctv Complaints DPC Data Protection Commission GDPR GoPro Katherine O'Keefe The Hard Shoulder Video Doorbell Webcams

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