Persónuvernd (Iceland) - 2020010587

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Persónuvernd (Iceland) - 2020010587
Authority: Persónuvernd (Iceland)
Jurisdiction: Iceland
Relevant Law: Article 2(2)(c) GDPR
Type: Complaint
Outcome: Rejected
Decided: 30.09.2021
Fine: None
Parties: n/a
National Case Number/Name: 2020010587
European Case Law Identifier: n/a
Appeal: Not appealed
Original Language(s): Icelandic
Original Source: Icelandic DPA (in IS)
Initial Contributor: Florence D'Ath

The Icelandic DPA dismissed a complaint from two data subjects regarding the alleged recording of their house and backyard by the video cameras of their neighbors, after the latter demonstrated that the vision field of these cameras were restricted to their own private property.

English Summary[edit | edit source]

Facts[edit | edit source]

On 30 April 2019, two individuals (the Complainants) filed a complaint with the Icelandic DPA against their neighbors (Y and Z), arguing that the latter had installed video surveillance cameras on their house which were recording images beyond their private property. The Complainants were concerned in particular by the fact that those cameras could be recording images of their own backyard and house.

On 2 May 2019, Y and Z were invited to submit their views to the Icelandic DPA. They explained that the camera in question was a mock-up that could not record any images. After the Icelandic DPA further questioned Y and Z on this camera, the latter admitted that the camera was currently disconnected but that they intended to connect it, and add two additional cameras at least. Y and Z however stressed that they would ensure, at the time of the installation, that the cameras would neither record the public space, nor the private property of the Complainants.

Between October 2020 and August 2021, the Complainants notified the Icelandic DPA that at least four cameras had been installed by Y and Z. Following further requests from the Icelandic DPA, Y and Z provided the Icelandic DPA with screenshots from all their cameras. Those screenshots showed that the field of vision of the concerned cameras did not extend beyond Y and Z's private property.

Holding[edit | edit source]

Given that the processing of personal data by Y and Z was limited to their private property, and did not extend to the public space of the private property of the Complainants, the Icelandic DPA considered that such processing was falling under the household exemption (Article 2(2)(c) GDPR), and that the GDPR therefore did not apply. For this reason, the Icelandic DPA dismissed the complaint.

Comment[edit | edit source]

In line with the case-law of the CJEU, and in particular with Ryneš (C-2012/13), the Icelandic DPA considered that the recording of images by individuals does not fall under the scope of the GDPR when such recording is limited to the private sphere of these individuals, and does not extend to the public sphere. What remains interesting however is that national DPAs - such as the Icelandic one in that case - have the power to investigate whether and to what extent surveillance cameras are recording their surroundings. Hence, data subjects who feel uneasy about their neighbors' cameras are still well advised to file a complaint with their DPA - not necessarily with a view of having their neighbors condemned - but rather to gather information on the field of visions of such cameras.

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English Machine Translation of the Decision[edit | edit source]

The decision below is a machine translation of the Icelandic original. Please refer to the Icelandic original for more details.

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      Complaint about electronic monitoring of neighbors dismissed
      Case no. 2020010587






      Privacy received a complaint about a surveillance camera at the complainants 'neighbors' house. The complainants considered it likely that the camera's field of view would reach their house and backyard. During the proceedings, the complainants informed the Data Protection Authority that more surveillance cameras had been installed on their neighbors' houses. According to screenshots from surveillance cameras at the complainants' neighbors' house, it did not reach beyond the neighbors' plot. As electronic monitoring, which only covers the person's private property, falls outside the scope of the Data Protection Act and thus the scope of the Data Protection Authority, the complaint was dismissed.


On September 22, 2021, the Data Protection Authority made the following decision in case no. 2020010587 (formerly 2019020227):
On April 30, 2019, the Data Protection Authority received a complaint from [A] and [B] (hereinafter the complainants) over a surveillance camera at their neighbors' house, [C] and [D], to [E]. The complainants considered that it was possible for the machine's video to reach their house and backyard. The complaint was accompanied by a photo of the camera.
By letter dated 2 May 2019, [C] and [D] were invited to provide explanations regarding the complaint. They replied by letter on 13 May 2019. They claimed that the camera was an artificial camera that did not collect data. Privacy asked [C] and [D] further to the camera in a letter on June 14 of the same year. The complainants sent their comments on replies [C] and [D] in a letter on the 25th of the same month. Following the Data Protection Authority's repetitions on 12 December 2019 and 3 March 2020, [C] and [D] answered the Data Protection Authority's questions by e-mail on 24 and 26 March 2020. The e-mails state that the camera in question is disconnected but that they intend to connect it and add two machines at least. They will make sure that the cameras that are installed only reach the plot boundaries of their property and that areas that the public can walk through are strictly marked in such a way that it is clear that electronic monitoring takes place there. Data showing the image range of the machines will be sent to the Data Protection Authority. The e-mails were accompanied by, among other things, screenshots from a camera on their house, which means that the camera's field of view reached almost exclusively the street and other houses around it, preferably [F], the complainants' house.
By letter dated 30 March 2020, the Data Protection Authority requested that screenshots from all surveillance cameras be sent to [E]. The complaint was repeated on 4 May of the same year and again on 25 June of the same year, where confirmation was also requested as to whether the camera, which was the subject of the original complaint, had been connected.
[C] and [D] sent an e-mail to the Data Protection Authority on 12 July 2020 stating that the cameras had not yet been installed and that they would send screenshots of them to the Data Protection Authority when this had been done. Then the camera, which had originally been complained about, would not have been connected.
The complainants sent an e-mail to the Data Protection Authority on October 20, 2020, informing them that the day before, at least two new cameras had been installed at [E] aimed at their house and garden. Attached were photos taken by the complainants from their yard of the cameras. By e-mail of 9 July 2021, the complainants informed that a surveillance camera had been added to the front door to [E] and that they considered its field of view to be their property. The presentation was accompanied by photos from the camera. By e-mail of 6 August 2021, the complainants informed the Data Protection Authority that a surveillance camera had once again been added to [E]. It was in the window of the house where there was a view of their yard to [F]. A new camera had been installed on the balcony at [E], which pointed to a car park on the other side of the house.
In a letter dated 19 August 2021, the Data Protection Authority invited [C] and [D] to comment on the above and requested answers to further specified questions. They responded by email on September 12 of the same year. Attached to the message were screenshots of the video of the doorbell and four other cameras by the house. They show that the field of view of the machines does not extend beyond plot [E].
All the above documents have been taken into account in resolving the case, although not all of them are specifically mentioned in this decision.
According to para. Article 4 Act no. 90/2018 on personal protection and processing of personal information, cf. paragraph 2 (c) Article 2 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, the Act and the Regulation do not apply to an individual's processing of personal data that only concerns his or her personal interests or family's or is intended solely for personal use. within the scope of the Act and the Regulation. Taking into account the information and data obtained by the Data Protection Authority and described above, electronic monitoring at [E] only extends to the site by the building. As a result, it falls outside the scope of Act no. 90/2018 and Regulation (EU) 2016/679. With reference to para. Article 39 of the Act, the monitoring thus also falls outside the scope of the Data Protection Authority and the complaint will therefore be dismissed.
Complaint [A] and [B] about electronic monitoring of their neighbors' houses, [C] and [D], that [E] is dismissed from the Data Protection Authority.
Privacy, September 22, 2021

Helga Þórisdóttir Valborg Steingrímsdóttir


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