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Ring doorbell warning after £100k fine row – make sure you don’t get caught out

OWNERS of Ring doorbells are being warned that the security tech could see them getting a hefty fine if their neighbours complain.

Amazon, who distribute the Ring devices, are advising Ring customers to make it clear if one of the doorbells is in use at a property.

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Ring is advising customers to “respect their neighbours” when using its doorbellsCredit: AP:Associated Press
Jon Woodard, pictured, is facing a huge payout over the usage of his Amazon Ring doorbell

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Jon Woodard, pictured, is facing a huge payout over the usage of his Amazon Ring doorbellCredit: dmg media Licensing

Ring said in a statement: “We strongly encourage our customers to respect their neighbours’ privacy and comply with any applicable laws when using their Ring device.

“We’ve put features in place across all our devices to ensure privacy, security, and user control remain front and centre – including customisable Privacy Zones to block out “off-limit” areas, Motion Zones to control the areas customers want their Ring device to detect motion and Audio Toggle to turn audio on and off.”

Amazon has advised owners to ensure people know they are being filmed by putting Ring stickers on their door or windows.

You can make use of the Privacy Zones feature so you’re only filming your property.

The warning comes after a man was ordered to pay his neighbour £100,000 because his Ring doorbell allegedly invaded her privacy.

Jon Woodard, 45, was told that he may have to pay Dr Mary Fairhurst the huge sum after a judge found his use of the cameras broke data laws and caused harassment.

The audio-visual technician said he had originally fitted the four devices after robbers tried to steal his car in 2019.

But neighbour Dr Fairhurst, of Thame, Oxfordshire, claimed the Ring devices were “intrusive” and had left her feeling under “continuous visual surveillance.”

Mr Woodard, who was “extremely disappointed and shocked” by the verdict, is now “petrified” he could lose everything.

He said: “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.

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“It’s going to ruin my life.”

The Ring doorbell devices, which are connected via the internet, are primarily designed to notify absent home-owner 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 said his Ring doorbell was a lifeline during the Covid pandemic because it allowed him to interact with delivery drivers and postmen without having to answer the door.

He also feels safer knowing he and his wife can see who is at the door before they answer it.

Dr Fairhurst felt so strongly about Mr Woodard’s doorbell that she moved out of her home.

Oxford County Court also heard how she had felt harassed after Mr Woodard, who had been neighbours with the woman for 20 years, had become ‘aggressive’ with her when she complained.

But Mr Woodard was baffled by her complaints.

“I could understand if it looked into her garden or into her property, but it doesn’t,” he said.

Yesterday, Judge Melissa Clarke concluded that Mr Woodard had breached the Data Protection Act 2018 as well as General Data Protection Regulation.

She said images and audio files of Dr Fairhurst, of Thame, Oxfordshire, captured on the Ring devices were classed as her personal data.

The landmark ruling is believed to be first of its kind in the UK and could set a precedent for the estimated 100,000 owners of the Ring smart doorbell nationally.

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