A plumber who has been could be forced to pay his neighbour £100,000 after a judge ruled his Ring smart doorbell cameras breached her privacy has warned he will lose his £275,000 home.
Jon Woodard, 45, from Thame, Oxfordshire, said the court ruling in favour of Dr Mary Fairhurst is 'going to ruin my life' and admitted he 'can't even afford £5,000'.
The audio-visual technician said he had been left 'extremely disappointed and shocked' by the verdict and is 'petrified' he will be left bankrupt.
The judge found Mr Woodard's use of his cameras broke data laws and his behaviour during his dispute with Dr Fairhurst amounted to harassment.
She claimed she was forced to move out of her home in Thame because the internet-connected gadgets were 'intrusive'.
The doorbells, owned by US giant Amazon, notify the absent homeowner 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.
Mr Woodard insisted 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 holistic healthcare company director Dr Fairhurst told Oxford County Court the devices placed her under 'continuous visual surveillance.'
Tuesday's ruling is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK and could set precedent for more than 100,000 owners of the Ring doorbell nationally.
The court heard:Mr Woodard fitted four devices around his house. He claimed he did this to protect his vehicles from thieves; But a judge ruled he'd recorded Dr Fairhurst's property including her gate, garden and car parking spaces; Judge said he breached UK GDPR by not handling her personal data in a 'fair and transparent manner'; Ruled that Mr Woodard then sought to 'actively mislead' Dr Fairhurst about what the cameras recorded; Judge took particular issue with camera's audio range, saying it is 'not reasonable for crime prevention'.
Jon Woodard (pictured, with his partner Nicola Copelin), 45, from Thame, Oxfordshire, said the court ruling in favour of Dr Mary Fairhurst is 'going to ruin my life' and admitted he 'can't even afford £5,000'
Dr Mary Fairhurst (left) who claimed the cameras on a neighbour's smart doorbells breached her privacy won a landmark legal battle on Tuesday. Mr Woodard, 45, (right, 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
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 on Tuesday
People can buy basic Ring video doorbells from Ring's website for around £40, going all the way up to around £160. Those wanting extra protection from thieves can buy security cameras starting at around £180 and going up to around £220.Nest
At around £200, Google's video doorbell Nest lets you know who's at the door, so you won't miss a visitor or parcel delivery. It can send an alert to your smart device, and can tell the difference between a person and something else.
Left: Ring. Right: Nest
With 180 degree diagonal viewing, Arlo captures head-to-toe detail in 1080p video while the built-in siren helps deter intruders', its website claims. Prices range from around £40 to around £180.RemoBell
RemoBell operates on AA batteries, so you can install it anywhere without being restricted by power outlets or complicated wires. Customers can buy RemoBell cameras for around £130.
Left: Arlo. Right: RemoBell
Like Ring and Nest, Ezviz lets you sand talk to your visitors from your smartphone anywhere. The built-in microphone and speaker make it easy for you to hear what's happening outside the door. Costs around £135.Lorex
Lorex doorbells deliver 'crisp HDR video and offers numerous features including color night vision, person detection, a built-in deterrent light and siren, and support for voice control', the makers claim. Costs around £95.
Left: Ezviz. Right: Lorex
Mr Woodard told the Sun: 'This court ruling means I am probably going to have to go bankrupt and close the business down because I can't afford £100,000, I can't even afford £5,000. How is that fair?
'It's going to be over £200,000 and I'm petrified. I know I'm going to lose my house and my business, it's horrific. I won't ever own my own house again. It's going to ruin my life.'
Dr Fairhurst, who had lived peacefully next to Mr Woodard for two decades, claimed he had harassed her by becoming 'aggressive' when she complained to him about the cameras, the court heard.
Judge Melissa Clarke on Tuesday found Mr Woodard had breached the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR.
Dr Fairhurst is now entitled to compensation and orders preventing the Mr Woodard from continuing to breach her rights with his security devices.
In her ruling, Judge Clarke said the images and audio files of Dr Fairhurst captured on the Ring devices were classed as her personal data.
She found Mr Woodard had failed to process her data in a 'fair or transparent manner' in accordance with his role as a 'data controller' as laid out by the Information Commissioner.
Judge Clarke said Mr Woodard had 'sought to actively mislead the claimant about how and whether the cameras operated and what they captured.'
She concluded Mr Woodard had collected data outside the boundaries of his property and, referring to the shed camera, added: 'I am satisfied that on many occasions it [the shed camera] had a very wide field of view and captured the Claimant's personal data as she drove in and out of the car park.'
Mr Woodard had also installed a driveway camera, which he claimed was a dummy. The judge dismissed his claim and ruled it captured images and audio on Dr Fairhurst's property including her gate, garden and parking spaces.
The judge dismissed Mr Woodard's claim the driveway camera was used legitimately to deter thieves from stealing his car. She said 'crime prevention, could surely be achieved by something less' than the device.
Taking particular issue with the camera's audio range, she added: 'I am satisfied that the extent of range to which these devices can capture audio is well beyond the range of video that they capture, and in my view cannot be said to be reasonable for crime prevention.'
Speaking after Tuesday's remote hearing, Mr Woodard said he was 'extremely disappointed and shocked' by the judge's decision.