With the rise of camera-connected doorbells, the question arises as to how legal they are. After all, devices like the Blink Video Doorbell can record whoever walks by. Aren’t the privacy rights of other neighbors affected? Can anyone just install a camera doorbell on their front door and pretend nothing is happening? It’s not that easy. Here we explain what is the position of the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) and what aspects we must take into account for its correct use.
Camera doorbells are legal, but there’s fine print. If the digital peephole does not offer the possibility of recording images and is only limited to the moment in which the person bites, then those images are considered to be within the personal and private sphere. However, if these connected doorbells have a camera and can record images at any time, then you have to be vigilant with the Data Protection Law.
The use of cameras at the door of the house is justified for security reasons, but multiple cases are differentiated. If the peephole camera only records our property and only a plot in front of the door, the AEPD states that it is a private area and these recordings are excluded from image processing. On the other hand, if the camera points to the street, to a common area of the community or to the urbanization, then a series of additional measures must be carried out.
Where the camera is pointed is important. These cameras should only point towards the common areas and images of the public road may not be captured, unless it is essential, although as an exception a minimum strip of accesses is allowed. In the event that the camera is adjustable or has a zoom, the AEPD also requires that a privacy mask be installed to avoid capturing images of the street, adjoining land or other homes. These requirements apply even if the installer is a third-party contracted service.
The permission of the Community of Owners is needed. To install a camera in common areas, the agreement of the Homeowners’ Meeting will be required and it must be reflected in the minutes. Preferably, the AEPD also explains that it is recommended that you record the number of cameras and a description of the space that is being captured, in addition to trying to have the permission of the neighbors closest to your door.
If there is recording, a notice is required. If there is image processing, that is, if the neighbors are being recorded beyond just when they pass by, then a series of additional requirements must be met. The first is that the owner must register as responsible, for example through the Facilita RGPD tooland ensure that sufficient data protection measures are being taken.
In addition, it will be necessary to report that the area is under video surveillance, with a sign indicating who is responsible and the possibility for people to exercise their rights. A very common warning sign to see in homes that have alarm and security systems.
These recorded images may be kept for a maximum period of one month, unless they are used as evidence for a complaint.
In the United Kingdom, fines have already begun. An Oxfordshire resident was sued and sentenced to pay a fine of up to 100,000 pounds for not warning that he was recording with his Ring camera. The owner defended that his only intention was to avoid robots, but video and even audio was recorded, since before 2020 Ring cameras also recorded sound. Amazon’s own Ring has one guide on how to proceed if we are going to install a camera.
In Spain there have been some complaints, but they have been archived. The AEPD has received some complaints from neighbors, but for the moment all have been archived. One case was that of a neighbor who denounced the installation of one of these digital peepholes, but when it only activated when he passed by data processing was not considered.
“We cannot live with our backs turned to technological advances”, they have voiced from the Spanish Data Protection Agency. “In particular in terms of cameras, which are practically part of our daily lives.”
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