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 yesterday. 

A judge found that Jon Woodard’s use of his cameras broke data laws and amounted to harassment of Dr Mary Fairhurst, in a ruling thought to be the first of its kind in the UK which could set precedent for more than 100,000 owners of the Ring doorbell nationally.

The internet-connected devices, which are owned by US giant Amazon, 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. 

Audio-visual technician Mr Woodard said 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 Dr Fairhurst, whose house in Thame, Oxfordshire, is two doors and a car park access road away, claimed that the devices were so ‘intrusive’ that she was forced to move out. The holistic healthcare company director told Oxford County Court that they placed her under ‘continuous visual surveillance.’

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

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

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

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

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’.

Judge Melissa Clarke found Mr Woodard breached provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation

Judge Melissa Clarke found Mr Woodard breached provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation

Judge Melissa Clarke found Mr Woodard breached provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation

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

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

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.  

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