An interesting judgment handed down in Oxford County Court today. Although the reference to a "substantial fine" doesn’t seem to be borne out by the actual judgment of the Court, that judgment does highlight that where images and recordings are made extending beyond a domestic setting to the public highway and/or adjoining properties, individuals may become liable under data protection regulations.

It is likely that the news coverage will lead to calls for increased "privacy" and already I have seen articles claiming that the prices of Ring doorbells have been slashed. In fact, however, it is not that all domestic surveillance has suddenly become unusable, but rather that the judgment highlights that a balance has to be struck between data protection interests of neighbours and the general public, and the use of surveillance equipment to protect property which, if correctly done, can be perfectly compliant.

While the dispute in this case was between two individuals, it is of interest to companies creating and selling technology with a surveillance component. Even a private dispute can lead to adverse reporting that can tarnish the manufacturer’s brand, and it is not impossible that the company itself could be drawn into disputes, where they have not adopted proper principles of data protection by design and default in developing the device. Companies should also consider product guidance to support their customers use of the equipment in a compliant manner.