Home security cameras: Invasion of neighbours' privacy?

'We deserve to be able to sit in our backyards and have some privacy,' homeowner says

CBC News Posted: Feb 06, 2015 9:45 PM PT Last Updated: Feb 07, 2015 9:21 AM PT




When it comes to protecting your home, more people are choosing to install video cameras around their property and with some real estate agents even featuring them as a selling point. But they're also a potential privacy problem.

The issue came to a head in an East Vancouver neighbourhood when Dawn Dunkurley realized her neighbour had several video cameras trained at her street and her home.

While at an open house at her neighbour's, her son spotted a computer screen with four feeds from the security cameras mounted under the roof.       

"My son said, 'look mom, you can see our whole backyard, and church yard as well, and I said, 'What?!" I was really taken aback."

She complained to the police, saying "we deserve to be able to sit in our backyards and have some privacy if we want."

"The police told us we could put up a shrub or a fast-growing tree, or if not that, we could shine a slight into the camera and it wouldn't be able to record anything."


Privacy concerns

Privacy lawyer Daniel Reid says if cameras are deemed to be used for voyeurism or criminal harassment, the law can get involved. But the law is fuzzier when it comes to home security cameras.

"You are allowed to set up security cameras but if it starts to unreasonably invade privacy, you are potentially open to a lawsuit and will have to pay damages," he said. "The nice thing is the courts are starting to recognize how important privacy is so we are going to see limits and those limits are going to be enforced."

Dunkurley said if a homeowner is going to install security cameras trained on a neigbour's home, they should at least let them know. 

As for now, in an effort to be neighbourly, the homeowners agreed to angle the camera away from the Dunkurley's backyard even though they didn't have to do so. 

With files from Deborah Goble

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