Home-Surveillance Video Dodges EU Data Rules

     (CN) – After a series of attacks left Frantisk Rynes’ family home in the Czech Republic in shambles, the man installed a surveillance camera to catch the perpetrators.
     The camera filmed the entrance to the Rynes’ home, the public sidewalk out front and the door of the home opposite the walkway. Eventually, Rynes captured footage of another attack – which police used to apprehend and prosecute two suspects.
     One of the suspects lodged a complaint with the Czech data-protection office, however, claiming that Rynes had illegally captured his personal data with the surveillance camera without his consent. The office agreed that Rynes had violated personal data-protection rules and fined him accordingly.
     Rynes appealed the fine to the Czech Supreme Administrative Court, which asked the European Court of Justice whether the footage – meant to protect the Rynes home from vandals – fell outside the EU’s data-protection law since it was made by an individual for purely personal reasons.
     In a five-page opinion issued Thursday, the Luxembourg-based high court ruled that Rynes lost the chance to argue for the individual and personal exception when he pointed the surveillance camera onto the public sidewalk.
     “To the extent that video surveillance such as that at issue in the main proceedings covers, even partially, a public space and is accordingly directed outwards from the private setting of the person processing the data in that manner, it cannot be regarded as an activity which is a purely ‘personal or household’ activity for the purposes of EU law,” the court wrote.
     But Rynes may still have a case, given that the directive also allows for the “legitimate interests pursued by the controller, such as the protection of property, health and life of his family and himself,” the court added.
     Member states therefore have the right to soften their own interpretation of the EU’s data-protection law in the interests of public safety and criminal prosecution, the court concluded.

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