A person who broke the window of the applicant’s home and was identified by the police with the help of the applicant’s CCTV camera complained that the footage was in breach of data protection law, as he did not give consent for that processing operation. The Data Protection Authority fined the applicant, and the applicant challenged the DPAs decision in front of an administrative court. The administrative court sent a question for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU.
Video image is personal data
First, the Court established that “the image of a person recorded by a camera constitutes personal data because it makes it possible to identify the person concerned” (para. 22).
In addition, video surveillance involving the recording and storage of personal data falls within the scope of the Directive, since it constitutes automatic data processing.
Household exception must be “narrowly construed”
According to the Court, as far as the provisions of the Data protection directive govern the processing of personal data liable to infringe fundamental freedoms, they “must necessarily be interpreted in the light of the fundamental rights set out in the Charter (see Google Spain and Google, EU:C:2014:317, paragraph 68)”, and “the exception provided for in the second indent of Article 3(2) of that directive must be narrowly construed” (para. 29).
In this sense, the Court emphasized the use of the word “purely” in the legal provision for describing the personal or household activity under this exception (para. 30).
Such processing operation is most likely lawful
In one of the last paragraphs of the decision, the Court clarifies that “the application of Directive 95/46 makes it possible, where appropriate, to take into account — in accordance, in particular, with Articles 7(f), 11(2), and 13(1)(d) and (g) of that directive — legitimate interests pursued by the controller, such as the protection of the property, health and life of his family and himself, as in the case in the main proceedings” (para. 34).
This practically means that, even if the household exception does not apply in this case, and the processing operation must comply with the requirements of the Data protection directive, these requirements imply that a CCTV camera recording activity such as the one in the proceedings is lawful.
NB: The Court used a non-typical terminology in this decision – “the right to privacy” (para. 29)