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Reference for a preliminary ruling – use of CCTV for protection of the household from burglary

The Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic lodged reference for a preliminary ruling before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Case C-212/13 – „Ryneš“ (19.4.2013)

The need to submit the request for a preliminary ruling arose in a case involving the use of an individual camera for limited household purposes that protects the home from burglary.

The preliminary question states, whether the use of the individual camera system put at the family house for the purpose of protection of the property, life, health (from burglary), overlooks the street or other areas near their home fall under the Art. 3 par.2 of the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, that states:

“This Directive shall not apply to the processing of personal data by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity.”

The facts

Mr. Rynes, the journalist, installed the camera on his own house in order to secure his house against the violent incidents that happened several times in 2007 when the stones were thrown into his windows. The camera system was installed by the professional company and does not comprise the monitor. The record is available only for the purpose of the family and not to stream to third parties. According to the Czech case law, the record could be used in the criminal proceedings as an evidence. In October 2007 the offender was arrested thanks to the camera record. The offender made a complaint to the Office for personal data protection (Úřad pro ochranu osobních údajů) that the the cctv  breaches Act No. 101/2000 Coll., the Personal Data Protection Act according to the Art. 44 par. 2 e), f), i).:

Natural person in the position of the controller or processor commits an offence in the course of personal data processing if he in respect of the monitoring of the people on the street:

e) processes personal data without the consent of data subject except the cases provided by law (Article 5(2) and Article 9)

f) fails to provide the data subject with information in the scope or in the manner provided by law (Article 11)

i) fails to fulfill the notification obligation pursuant to this Act (Articles 16 and 27)

Full version of the Personal Data Protection Act.

Relevant law and practice

The Supreme Administrative Court assessed the case and due to the inconsistence of the practice in the European states, submitted the above stated question.

In Austria, Spain, Belgium, the practice does not subordinate the monitoring of the house for the purpose of the protection from the criminal offences under the Art. 3 par. 2 of the Directive 95/46/EC. The DPA than fully applies.

In contrary, In the United Kingdom, Ireland according to The Information Commissioner’s Office, the Data Protection Act 1988 is not applicable in respect of the use of cameras for limited household purposes. This applies where an individual uses CCTV to protect their home from burglary, even if the camera overlooks the street or other areas near their home.“ (CCTV code of practice, Revised edition 2008, s. 5, http://www.ico.gov.uk/).

The Supreme Administrative Court tends to interpret the Article in compliance to the British practice.

About ondrejovae

Czech Attorney/Barrister located in Prague with specialization in media law and protection of personal rights


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Dear readers and followers, I would like to make an announcement that I have opened my own legal office. The website of the office is www.ondrejova.cz


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