Backyard security camera sparks wider privacy concerns
LONDON, ONT. -- Security cameras are meant to protect your home and your privacy, but what if a camera is invading the privacy of others?
That issue was in focus Wednesday at City Hall in a dispute between two north London neighbours.
Sam Trosow, a Western University law professor, says these days we're all on camera even if we don't want to be.
“These cameras, they're on persistently. It's not like it just scans every now and then, it's persistent, 24/7 or it can be.”
He says when we're out in the public it's one thing, but London may need to strengthen it's bylaws when it comes to home security cameras.
“In your backyard you should feel that you can go back there to relax or have friends or maybe sun a little bit without thinking that you're going to be surveilled.”
After a dispute over a fence line which was settled in court, David Johnstone noticed a camera go up on his neighbour's house in north London
A copy of a photo he received shows a fraction of his backyard in the upper left corner, and that's what started worrying him.
The area covered by a backyard security camera is seen before it was adjusted. David Johnstone's backyard is in the top left corner.
“The last stand I have is my backyard. I don't want to be on camera in the backyard and it has nothing to do with a disagreement with a neighbour. I have to be clear this affects every household in the City of London whether you own or rent.”
The city was called and so were police, but both have told Johnstone that the neighbour involved is doing nothing illegal.
When we reached out to the neighbour, he said he adjusted the camera months ago to exclude Johnstone's backyard.
The area covered by a backyard security camera is seen after it was adjusted. David Johnstone's backyard is in the top left corner.
He didn't want to appear on camera, but in a statement he added that he installed the cameras after vehicle break-ins and in doing so he aims to protect his family and property. He also says he will abide by any bylaw changes.
At the Community and Protective Services Committee the matter was sent back to staff to make further inquiries about whether the existing bylaw should be amended.
Johnstone says, “This is not a victimless crime, the victim is all the people that camera monitors all the time even if there's no criminal activity.”
He says he's not only worried for his own family, but he's concerned about the privacy of his neighbours as well.
"My premise is you may not be breaking the law but what you're doing isn't right."