A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

A woman who claimed the cameras on a neighbour’s smart doorbells breached her privacy won a landmark legal battle yesterday.

Jon Woodard, 45, may have to pay Dr Mary Fairhurst more than £100,000 in damages after a judge found his use of the cameras broke data laws and amounted to harassment.

The ruling is understood to be the first of its kind in the UK and could set precedent for more than 100,000 owners of the Ring smart doorbell nationally.

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

Dr Mary Fairhurst (right, with a friend at Oxford County Court) who claimed the cameras on a neighbour’s smart doorbells breached her privacy won a landmark legal battle yesterday

The internet-connected devices notify the absent home owner via a smartphone when a visitor arrives at the door. The owner can then use an app to watch and talk to the visitor by using the doorbell’s built-in camera and microphone.

Audio-visual technician Mr Woodard said he fitted four devices, including two ‘dummies,’ around his property to protect his vehicles from masked thieves who tried to steal his car in 2019.

But Dr Fairhurst, of Thame, Oxfordshire, whose house is two doors and a car park access road away, claimed that the Ring devices were so ‘intrusive’ that she was forced to move out.

The holistic healthcare company director told Oxford County Court that they placed her under ‘continuous visual surveillance.’

The doctor – a neighbour of Mr Woodard for two decades – claimed he harassed her by becoming ‘aggressive’ when she complained.

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA
, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

Jon Woodard, 45, (left, with his partner Nicola Copelin) may have to pay Dr Fairhurst more than £100,000 in damages after a judge found his use of the cameras broke data laws and amounted to harassment

Judge Melissa Clarke found Mr Woodard breached provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation. 

In her ruling, she said the images and audio files of Dr Fairhurst captured on the Ring devices were classed as the doctor’s personal data, but Mr Woodard, had failed to process it in a ‘fair or transparent manner’.

After the remote hearing, Mr Woodard said he was ‘extremely disappointed and shocked’. 

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

, A victory for privacy: Woman could get up to £100k in damages over neighbour’s doorbell cameras, The Today News USA

The internet-connected devices notify the absent home owner via a smartphone when a visitor arrives at the door. The owner can then use an app to watch and talk to the visitor by using the doorbell’s built-in camera and microphone

He told the Mail he bought the devices ‘in good faith to protect my property and vehicles. To now be told these are harassment devices feels like a joke and I myself feel like I am being harassed. 

‘Many of my neighbours have cameras and smart doorbells.’

In response to the ruling, Amazon-owned Ring advised device owners to ensure people know they are filmed by putting Ring stickers on their door or windows.