ECJ holds a private CCTV camera which incidentally monitors a public space is not data processing “in the course of a purely personal or household activity” (Article 3(2) EU 95/46)

On December 11, 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) considered the recording by CCTV (Closed-circuit television) cameras on private premises as “household exception” to data protection laws, even though they incidentally monitored a public space.

In this case, a Czech citizen installed a camera system for security purposes in his family home. The camera registered an attack to the house and made it possible to identify two suspects.

Following the request from one of the suspects, the local data protection authority found several privacy violations: as a data controller, the house owner collected and processed, without consent, the personal data of persons on the public ground surrounding his property.

On appeal, the competent Czech court decided to stay proceedings and brought before the ECJ a preliminary ruling for the ECJ to decide whether a camera system on a family home installed for protection can be classified as processing of personal data for the purposes of Article 3(2) of Directive 95/46, even though such a system also monitors a public space.

The ECJ found that video surveillance constitutes processing of personal data since it allows for personal identification.

Recording “in the course of a purely personal or household activity” constitutes an exception to EU privacy rules.

The Court held that “the processing of personal data comes within the exception provided for in the second indent of Article 3(2) of Directive 95/46 only where it is carried out in the purely personal or household setting of the person processing the data”  and that “[t]o the extent that video surveillance … covers, even partially, a public space … it cannot be regarded as an activity which is a purely ‘personal or household’ activity”

However, the ECJ found that in the case at issue:

“the operation of a camera system, as a result of which a video recording of people is stored on a continuous recording device such as a hard disk drive, installed by an individual on his family home for the purposes of protecting the property, health and life of the home owners, but which also monitors a public space, does not amount to the processing of data in the course of a purely personal or household activity, for the purposes of that provision”.

Case C-212:13

More information on Case C-212/13, Ryneš v. Úřad pro ochranuosobníchúdajů, is available at http://curia.europa…

Related material is available at http://eulawanalysis.blogspot…

December 11, 2014

Follow us on& Like us on