Doctor set for £100k pay-out after judge ruled neighbour’s Ring doorbell cameras breached privacy

A female doctor is set to be paid more than £100,000 after a judge ruled that her neighbour’s Ring smart doorbell cameras breached her privacy in a landmark legal battle which could pave the way for thousands of lawsuits over the Amazon-owned device. 

A judge found that Jon Woodard’s use of his cameras broke data laws and amounted to harassment of Dr Mary Fairhurst, who claimed she was forced to move out of her home in Thame, Oxfordshire because the internet-connected gadgets are so ‘intrusive’.

The doorbells, owned by US giant Amazon, notify the absent homeowner 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 insisted that 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 holistic healthcare company director Dr Fairhurst told Oxford County Court that the devices placed her under ‘continuous visual surveillance.’

Yesterday’s ruling is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK and could set precedent for more than 100,000 owners of the Ring doorbell nationally.  

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

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

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

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

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

A female doctor is set to be paid more than £100,000 after a judge ruled that her neighbour's Ring smart doorbell cameras breached her privacy in a landmark legal battle yesterday

A female doctor is set to be paid more than £100,000 after a judge ruled that her neighbour’s Ring smart doorbell cameras breached her privacy in a landmark legal battle yesterday

Audio-visual technician Mr Woodard insisted that 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

Audio-visual technician Mr Woodard insisted that 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

Audio-visual technician Mr Woodard insisted that 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

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

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’.

Dr Fairhurst is now entitled to compensation and orders preventing the Mr Woodard from continuing to breach her rights with his security devices

Dr Fairhurst is now entitled to compensation and orders preventing the Mr Woodard from continuing to breach her rights with his security devices

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

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

Mr Woodard also raised concerns for other ring doorbell owners after the ruling

Mr Woodard also raised concerns for other ring doorbell owners after the ruling

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

He told the Mail he bought the devices ‘in good faith to protect my property and vehicles’, adding: ‘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.  

Ring doorbells: WiFi-enabled smart devices bought by Amazon

Ring creates Wi-Fi enabled doorbells which notify absent homeowner via a smartphone when a visitor arrives at the door

Ring creates Wi-Fi enabled doorbells which notify absent homeowner via a smartphone when a visitor arrives at the door

Ring creates Wi-Fi enabled doorbells which notify absent homeowner 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 Amazon-owned doorbell’s built-in camera and microphone.

The doorbells’ recording features are triggered by a motion sensor and a message is sent to the homeowners when movement is detected.

California-based Ring first caught the spotlight with a failed quest for funding about five years ago on reality television show Shark Tank. 

It was later acquired by Amazon for a reported £700million ($1billion).  

Advertisement

Source

Related posts