It almost seems like every house in the UK has got a video doorbell at the moment, or at least some kind of security camera. If you haven’t got one, you need to look at our 2023 guide to the best video doorbells because you’re seriously missing out. They have jumped massively in popularity over the last few years, giving users peace of mind that their house is safe whether they’re at home or not. Insurance companies have even been considering lowering insurance premiums if their client has a video doorbell - crazy stuff.
However, there has been a recent upsurge in worries about data protection surrounding video doorbells. Yes, they’re completely legal and mostly perceived as a good thing to protect your home with. However, it’s important to know that if you have a video doorbell, they must comply with privacy laws, particularly in the UK.
How do I know if my video doorbell is breaching privacy laws?
There’s a cautionary tale that explains how you could be using your video doorbell incorrectly. In 2021, BBC News reported that an Oxfordshire-based man called Mr Woodard installed four Ring doorbells around his property to protect his home from burglars. He happened to install them in view of his neighbour’s house, garden and parking space. His neighbour, Dr Fairhurst, then claimed this was an invasion of her privacy.
When Dr Fairhurst went forward with legal proceedings, it was revealed at court that Mr Woodard didn’t ask his neighbour’s permission before installing the devices. Evidence was also presented that showed the devices capturing audio and video footage of Dr Fairhurst’s private property. The case ended with the judge declaring Mr Woodward’s doorbells breached UK privacy laws and he was ordered to pay his neighbour up to £100,000 in damages.
The case between Mr Woodward and Dr Fairhurst shows how using your video doorbell incorrectly can go very wrong. If you think a video doorbell is expensive, then you certainly don’t want to end up having to pay out damages for having one!
How should you use your video doorbell correctly?
Just to confirm, the above tale doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your video doorbell anymore, you just need to be careful!
It’s always a good idea to mention to your neighbours before installing a video doorbell. If it’s pointed away from their property and is just focused on a public place such as your street, then they should be fine. A lot of video doorbells come with a small sticker that declares the area is monitored by one as well!
You can also change the settings so the video doorbell will only alert you if someone is in the immediate area of your front door. Mr Woodward didn’t do this, which eventually helped Dr Fairhurst’s case against him.
If you’re considering whether to get a video doorbell, why not have a look at our 2023 list to the best security cameras?