Installation of a camera, monitoring - what is legally allowed?
The sight of the cameras surrounding us is hardly surprising to anyone anymore, because their use has become a kind of "normality". We can see them in shops, galleries, garages and public and private facilities. It happened thanks to the high availability of this type of equipment on the market and affordable prices, which is why practically everyone can buy them. However, we must be aware that, regardless of whether we treat them as a gadget or as an actual element of strengthening our sense of security, certain legal standards apply to us. According to one of the basic principles of law, Ignorantia iuris nocet (Ignorance of the law is harmful), which means that one cannot excuse ignorance of the law, we must know that ignorance of the law does not exempt from duty or responsibility. Therefore, we will try to suggest what we should know when deciding to purchase and install a camera or a monitoring set consisting of several or a dozen or so cameras.
MONITORING - LEGAL OR ILLEGAL
The popularity of using cameras in everyday life is indisputable, whether on private properties or in multi-family buildings. The goal is usually also obvious - to protect one's own belongings against loss or destruction. However, it is worth asking the question whether it is legal, legal? Following the lead of Art. 140 of the Civil Code: “Within the limits set by the laws and principles of social coexistence, the owner may, to the exclusion of other persons, use the thing in accordance with the socio-economic purpose of his law, in particular he may collect benefits and other income from the thing. Within the same limits, he may dispose of the thing”, it should be assumed that no provision of law or the rank of an act or regulation prohibits the owner of the property from installing a camera on his own property. However, it does not mean that we can do it freely and in the way we come up with. It is known that the device recording the image and sound cannot interfere with the sphere of privacy of third parties. Therefore, if our camera records the image from the neighbor's area, against his will, we may already have a problem with this situation. When our neighbor or another third party feels that their personal rights are being violated in this way, they have every right to sue us in a civil suit. However, it should be remembered that if such a person takes us to court, they will have to prove that the camera installed by us and its operation is unlawful and violates their personal rights. It may not be that simple anymore, especially if our camera has the so-called "privacy masks", i.e. areas that we exclude from registration or when we prove that the recorded image from the camera does not cover the neighboring area. An example of using the "privacy mask" in A and P series cameras:
and series B and D:
The same rules apply to private users and cooperatives or housing associations that install the camera in multi-family blocks. So we cannot place the camera in such a way that it will be possible to see what other residents of the block are doing in their apartments. However, it is possible to mount the camera by cooperatives or communities in places where security is at risk, e.g. at the entrance to the garage or hall. It is worth mentioning that a private person who intends to hang a camera in a multi-family block of flats should obtain the consent of the cooperative or community beforehand, otherwise he does so at his own risk and must take into account that someone from the residents may file a complaint about the violation of their personal data or violation of personal rights.
The use of monitoring requires the posting entity to fulfill the information obligation in accordance with the recommendations of the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO). Information plates should be used that are clearly visible and placed close to the camera, as well as information about the name of the data processor, the purpose of data processing and the rights of the observed person should be displayed in an easily visible place. Table examples below:
A correctly completed plate will allow, in the event of a burglary, theft or damage to property, to contact the police directly with the personal data administrator with a request to provide the recordings. In practice, no entity has the right to make recordings available to a person who makes a claim for infringement of their personal rights, and only does so at the request of law enforcement authorities. Therefore, the fact of such a violation must first be reported to the police, and the police, in turn, have the right to demand evidence of a violation of the law.
The provisions of the GDPR do not contain any specific regulations regarding the use of monitoring in housing estates or private properties. However, there is no doubt that if we record an image of a person on a storage medium, we are dealing with personal data, because on the basis of this image we are able to identify it. Therefore, in accordance with the provisions on the protection of personal data, we must have the consent of this person to record. In this context, the purpose for which the monitoring is installed is important, because if it is used to track and record the image of our private space, the provisions of the GDPR do not apply here (in accordance with Article 2(2)(3) of the GDPR). The situation would be different if we used a camera(s) to monitor and record on a storage medium, apart from private property, also public or private space belonging to third parties. Then it could be appealed against and resolved by an independent court. Considering that the provisions of the GDPR are relatively new legal regulations and too many decisions in this type of cases have not yet been made, the future will show us in what direction court decisions will go.
The use of monitoring on your own private property (single-family house, apartment) is not described in any law, which means that you can install the camera to observe your personal area. Also, the provisions of the GDPR do not introduce any specific restrictions in this regard. On the other hand, a situation in which our monitoring covers private neighboring properties or objects in public space and we record them on a storage medium may already give rise to suspicions of infringement of third party personal rights. The court will decide whether this actually happened or not. Therefore, we recommend conscious installation of cameras and setting them so that they actually monitor private property, and if this is not possible - use tools such as "privacy mask".