Since CCTV cameras were first installed in Nazi Germany for the purpose of observing the launch of V-2 rockets its use has been a controversial topic. None more so than for our clients who, in ever increasing numbers, are concerned about their neighbour’s use of CCTV equipment and what if any starring role they may have in the footage.
A recent case at Edinburgh Sheriff court published on 3rd February 2017 clearly sets out the rights and obligations of the CCTV user when monitoring their property along with the penalties for failure to follow the correct procedure. The case can be read in full here:
In this case the Pursuers resided at their property while the Defenders operated the neighbouring property as a B&B but did not reside there. Both neighbours decided to install CCTV systems on their property. The Pursuers’ equipment was attached to the outer wall of their property, and recorded images of their own external property only. In comparison, the Defender installed CCTV monitoring equipment on the external wall of her lower property that recorded video and audio data. It operated twenty-four hours a day and was permanently set to record. Five days’ data was retained at any time.
During the evidence the court found that the Defender’s CCTV cameras & audio equipment were deliberately set to cover the Pursuers’ private property and the Defender did not take any precautions to ensure that coverage of the Pursuers’ property was minimised or avoided.
Following consideration of the facts the court decided as follows:
- The Defender had been the data controller since October 2013. She registered as data controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 (the ‘Act’) in March 2015. She failed to give notice between October 2013 and March 2015 that she was the data controller.
- The Defender’s system was installed without notice, consultation or information. She did not inform the Pursuers of the purpose or extent of coverage. Further, visitors to the property received no notice that their actions and speech were being recorded.
- The Pursuers made repeated requests for information and copies of the coverage. The Defender consistently refused or delayed to divulge any information. The Pursuers have sought assistance from the Information Commissioners Office (the ‘ICO’).
- The data processing by the Defender’s system was intrusive, excessive and unjustified. It was unnecessary in relation to any legitimate purpose.
- The Defender had failed to observe the first, third and fifth principles of data protection. The said processing was not consensual and the method of obtaining data was oppressive.
- The Defender has failed to give notice or information about the system and her processing of the Pursuers’ personal data has not been fair.
- The Defender has failed to operate any data retention policy. The retention of data is five days, but that is solely a function of the technical recording ability of the Defender’s system. Five days’ retention of data exceeds any legitimate purposes. The Defender has maintained that the Defender’s system is to record any confrontation between the parties. If true, there is no legitimate requirement to store data for any more than one day. The data is retained for longer than is necessary. Her processing of the Pursuers’ personal data has not been fair.
- As a result of the Defender’s actions the Pursuers and their family had suffered considerable distress since October 2013.
The court therefore awarded the Pursuers each £8,634 calculated at 912 days, approximately two and a half years, at £10 per day, less four weeks a year for their absence.
This is an important case which should be considered by all parties from those that have or are thinking of installing CCTV & Sound monitoring equipment on their property to those that believe they may be starring in their neighbour’s modern day Shakespearean play.
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