UK judge rules Ring video doorbell breach of neighbor's privacy

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 installed on a door
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 installed on a door (Image credit: Amazon)

What you need to know

  • A shocking UK court case has ruled that a man who installed a Ring doorbell camera at his home violated his neighbor's privacy.
  • A judge has ruled that Jon Woodard violated the Data Protection act and UK GDPR laws because his cameras recorded his neighbor.
  • He could be forced to pay £100,000 in compensation.

A UK judge has ruled that a man who installed two Amazon Ring Doorbells at his home in Oxfordshire breached his neighbor's privacy and owes her thousands of pounds in compensation.

The Daily Mail reports that Jon Woodard had installed two Ring Doorbell cameras at his home in order to protect his property, along with two dummy units that he used to deter car thieves after an attempted theft in 2019.

The report states that Woodard's neighbor, a doctor who runs a holistic healthcare company, took him to court over claims the devices were subjecting her to 'continuous visual surveillance' and were 'intrusive. Turns out that judge Melissa Clarke agreed:

A judge at Oxford County Court ruled that Jon Woodard's use of his Ring cameras broke data laws and that he had pursued a course of harassment during his dispute with Dr. Mary Fairhurst, who said she was forced to move out of her home in Thame because the WiFi-connected gadgets were 'intrusive'.He could now be ordered to pay a fine of up to £100,000 for putting the doctor under 'continuous visual surveillance', however a decison on the final sum in fines and damages is still to be made by the judge.

Any files or audio from the doorbells that include Dr. Fairhurst are now considered her personal data, and that as controller of that data by the terms of the law, Mr. Woodard had not stored the data in a "fair or transparent way." Furthermore:

He had also "sought to actively mislead" Dr. Fairhurst about the way the cameras worked and what data they captured.Judge Clarke said Mr. Woodard had collected the doctor's personal data by recording her beyond the boundaries of his property.

The judge said a camera in Mr. Woodard's driveway had been used to record his neighbor's gate, garden, and parking space, however, Mr. Woodard said this device was a dummy. The judge claimed further that the audio range of the doorbell was "well beyond the range of video that they capture, and in my view cannot be said to be reasonable for crime prevention."

Mail Ring

Mail Ring (Image credit: Daily Mail)

The judge not only ruled that Mr. Woodard owed his neighbor compensation, but that he would have to put "blinkers" on his cameras so they didn't capture any of his neighbor's property, and he has been ordered by the court to disable the audio on the devices.

In response, Ring, which is owned by Amazon, said it was encouraging its users to let people know they were being filmed by using Ring stickers on their doors and windows. A spokesperson said:

'We strongly encourage our customers to respect their neighbours' privacy and comply with any applicable laws when using their Ring device.'We've put features in place across all our devices to ensure privacy, security, and user control remain front and centre - including customisable Privacy Zones to block out 'off-limit' areas, Motion Zones to control the areas customers want their Ring device to detect motion and Audio Toggle to turn audio on and off.'

Ring Doorbells, like many of the best HomeKit video doorbells on offer can be used to answer the door, even when a resident isn't at home. They also have a security use however as most come with a camera, microphone, and monitoring systems.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9