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ICO publishes new guidance to clarify law on domestic CCTV

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published new guidance on domestic CCTV. This will hopefully clarify the confusion that often swirls around the use of cameras in and around people’s homes.

If you have CCTV cameras in or around your home, it is important to understand your legal obligations as it could result in a fine or civil lawsuit as recently happened when a man who had installed Ring Doorbell cameras around his home was ordered to pay £100,000 to his neighbour.

In light of this case and numerous other complaints around domestic CCTV, the ICO guidance will hopefully help people understand when their use of CCTV is subject to data protection laws, specifically the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

What you need to know

The main principle is quite simple: If you set up your system so it captures only images within the boundary of your private domestic property (including your garden), then the data protection laws will not apply to you.

But they do apply if your system captures images of people outside the boundary of your private domestic property – for example, in neighbours’ homes or gardens, shared spaces, or on a public footpath or a street.

The easiest way to deal with the data protection laws is to set up your system so they don’t view anything outside the boundaries of your property.

If that’s not possible, then under the law you are a ‘data controller’ and you will have to take extra steps to comply with data protection laws.

Firstly, if you capture images outside the boundaries of your property, you must be able to explain why you need these images. The advice is to write down these reasons so if the ICO asks you will be able to offer an explanation as to why capturing the images is more important than protecting the privacy of your neighbours and other members of the public.

The ICO also says you will need to:

  • Put up signs to let people know what you are doing and why

  • Limit how many images you capture to only what you need

  • Hold the images securely to prevent them being misused or shared without authorisation

  • Delete the images as soon as you don’t need them

  • Respond to Subject Access Requests

  • Delete images if people ask you to

  • Consider any objections you receive to the use of CCTV

Failure to comply with the law could lead to enforcement action by the ICO and a fine. And as we noted above, you could also be sued by individuals for significant sums of money.

The guidance contains additional advice on recording and storing images, use of audio recording, sharing of images (rarely a good idea) and consulting with your neighbours about the use of CCTV.

Links to further information


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