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CCTV surveillance by your neighbour

Published Friday, January 8, 2016

Constituents sometimes complain to their MPs that a neighbour’s CCTV camera is “intrusive” and ask what the law says. This Paper provides a summary.

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Constituents sometimes complain to their MPs that a neighbour’s CCTV camera is “intrusive” and ask what the law says.

The use of CCTV in general is regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998 (which implements a 1995 EU Directive). However, the use of cameras for limited household purposes is exempt from the Act, providing that the field of view is limited to the householder’s own property.

If the camera covers areas beyond the boundaries of the property, such as neighbouring gardens or the street, then the camera operator may be unable to rely on the exemption. This point was established by a European Court of Justice ruling in December 2014. Given the interdependence of the UK and EU legislation, the judgment had implications for the United Kingdom, which had previously taken a more relaxed view of domestic CCTV use.

There are other grounds on which the domestic use of CCTV could be challenged, for example if its use amounted to harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The relevance of the legislation would depend on the specific circumstances.

Commons Briefing papers SN01803

Author: Philip Ward

Topic: Privacy

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