CCTV for domestic use
There are many domestic CCTV systems on the market to help you protect your home. If you’re thinking of using one, you need to make sure you do so in a way that respects other people’s privacy.
If you set up your system so it captures images within the boundary of your private domestic property (including your garden), then the data protection laws will not apply to you.
If your system captures images of people outside the boundary of your private domestic property, for example, in neighbours’ homes or gardens, shared spaces, including communal landings and walkways or on a public footpath or a street, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18) will apply to you, and you will need to ensure your use of CCTV complies with these laws.
Below are some additional factors to consider if you plan to set up domestic CCTV at your property.
How can I use CCTV responsibly at my property?
When setting up CCTV, always consider the following:
- What is the most privacy-friendly way to set up the system?
- What areas do I want the cameras to capture?
- Can I position the cameras to avoid intruding on my neighbours’ property or any shared or public spaces?
- Do I need to record the images, or is a live feed enough?
- Where a system has an audio-recording facility it is considered to be very privacy intrusive and should therefore be disabled
- Think about the problem you are trying to tackle. It will usually be to safeguard you and your property against crime. Better locks, security lighting or an alarm system may be more effective and less expensive ways of securing your property.
- Consider speaking to your neighbours and explaining what you are installing a system. Listen to any objections or concerns they may have.
- The phrase ‘domestic CCTV system’ includes cameras fitted to doorbells.
- Publicly uploading or streaming footage of identifiable people would not be justifiable.
- You must maintain records of how and why you are capturing images outside of the boundary of your home, and for how long you are keeping them.
- You may need to make these records available to the ICO on request.
If you decide to use CCTV, think about what areas need to be covered, and whether your cameras need to capture images beyond the boundary of your property. Remember, if your cameras don’t capture images beyond your boundary, the data protection laws won’t apply to you.
What happens if my CCTV captures images of people outside the boundary of my home?
If your CCTV captures images beyond your property boundary, such as your neighbours’ property or the street and footpaths, then your use of the system is subject to the data protection laws. This means that, as the CCTV user, you are a data controller so you will need to comply with your legal obligations under the data protection laws.
You can still capture images, but you need to show you are doing it in ways that comply with the data protection laws and uphold the rights of the people whose images you are capturing.
If you are capturing images beyond your property boundary, you should have a justifiable reason for doing so. In particular, you will need to think why you need these images. If asked by an individual or the ICO, you will need to be able to explain your reasons, so you should record these reasons why you are invading the privacy of others.
When capturing images outside the boundary of your home, you will need to ensure that you:
- Put up signs saying that CCTV recording is taking place, and why.
- Ensure you don’t capture more footage than you need to achieve your purpose in using the system.
- Retain the recordings securely and ensure nobody can watch them without good reason.
- Delete recordings when it is no longer needed.
- Ensure the CCTV system is only operated in ways you intend and that other household members understand the need to ensure that the system is not misused.
You also need to make sure you respect the data protection rights of the people whose images you capture. This includes the following:
- Individuals have a right to access the personal data you hold about them, including identifiable images. They can ask you verbally or in writing. You must respond within one month and give them a copy of the data.
- Deleting footage of people if they ask you to do so. You should do this within one month. You can refuse to delete it if you specifically need to keep it for a genuine legal dispute – in which case you need to tell them this, and also tell them they can challenge this in court or complain to the ICO.
- Consider any objection you get now from particular people about capturing their image in the future. You should again think whether you need to record images beyond your property boundary – particularly if your system is capturing images from a neighbour’s home or garden.
If you fail to comply with your obligations under the data protection laws, the ICO may take enforcement action. This could include a fine. You may also be subject to legal action by affected individuals, who could pursue court claims for compensation.