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I don’t like it when you film me

The fact that cameras are pointed at us on the streets, in the doorways of large companies or in the entrances of apartment buildings is slowly becoming a common reality that we count on. But more and more people are installing cameras in their homes. What is driving them to do this and what does the law say? And what about the use of recordings in private in general?

Natáčení kamerou v domě
5 minutes of reading

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The reason for installing a camera in the living room, kitchen or bedroom is usually simple. People want to protect their house from burglars, watch what their pet is doing, or check on their little sleeping baby. My house, my castle, you might say. So, is it enough to buy cameras and monitor everything that rustles in the apartment without restrictions?

It’s not that simple. The basic premise, of course, is that everyone is allowed to do what the law does not forbid. So you can buy as many cameras as you want and run them in your apartment. The catch is when there are other people in the apartment besides you.

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Others have a right to privacy

The right to privacy is governed by the Civil Code, which states that the taking of a person’s likeness in any manner so as to identify him or her may only be done with his or her consent.
The privacy of another cannot be interfered with unless there is a legal reason to do so. In particular, it is not possible to invade a person’s private premises, monitor their private life or make an audio recording without their consent.

Therefore, if we want to monitor our home, we must inform everyone who may be in the recording and have their consent. This applies not only to family members, but also to visitors, cleaning ladies and other people who are in the home. There is no a priori need to formalise the consent and make a written record of it. However, if the situation escalates into a court case, it is good to be able to prove this in some way.

What if I don’t get the consent of the others?

The issue of possibly filming other people should be primarily one of agreement. If the whole family finds it amusing to watch Zeryk’s funny stunts when they think the owners are not looking, then there is nothing to stop you installing a camera in the living room. However, if your teenage daughter disagrees with filming, you should respect her opinion.

Tip: Are you going on holiday and have decided to boost your home security by installing an outdoor camera? It is a wise step. But be aware of the circumstances under which you may be breaking the law. That’s what we look at in our article.

When can the ban on filming others be broken?

The office of the Accessible Advocate was contacted by Mrs. Petra, whose husband decided to protect their home from thieves. However, he was not content with a camera in the hallway, as one would expect with such an intention, but installed several devices in the kitchen and bedrooms. He responded to Mrs Petra’s objection that she felt uncomfortable under the surveillance of the cameras by saying that it was a matter of security for her property and herself and that she was entitled to it. The apartment did indeed belong to her husband and most of the property and valuables were in his possession. Mrs Petra wondered how to proceed in such a situation.

First of all, it was again necessary to reach an agreement. Mrs Petra’s husband certainly has the right to protect his property, but he should seek a solution that does not infringe on the privacy of others. A compromise could be, for example, to place a camera at the entrance to the apartment (but the wife must agree to this as well). An elegant solution could be to set the system so that it can be switched off when entering the apartment, leaving the monitoring only for the times when the apartment is abandoned. In an extreme case, Mrs Petra’s privacy could be enforced in court, but litigation between the couple would certainly not be a happy solution in terms of their future together.

General principles when recording others

The above principles for making recordings are far from being limited to recording in apartments. We should be equally careful about what and whom we record, for example, anywhere on the street.

At the same time, it should be said that the law allows for certain exceptions to the prohibition on recording others. Without prior consent, the law allows the recording of images for the protection of other rights and interests (for example, the protection of property or, in certain circumstances, the recording of another person in the exercise of public authority) and for scientific, artistic, intelligence and official purposes.

So what is it and whose right wins? First of all, common sense should prevail. If I am in a public space these days, when 99% of passers-by have a recording device with them and use it frequently, I cannot be surprised if I become a fleeting part of some accidental recording. After all, you can’t expect that when someone is videoing themselves on the street for their social network, they will first ask everyone within a ten metre radius for permission.

On the other hand, this is far from a “victory” for the filmers. Of course, that exception does not mean that anyone can claim to be making a documentary about their neighbors, family members, or fellow citizens, and thus film them as they please.

In a potential court case, the right to privacy would be put on the balance on the one hand, and on the other the reasons that led another person to violate it. Everything is always judged on a case-by-case basis. In very general terms, however, it can be said that if the reasons for the violation of the right to privacy are not really serious, then the right to privacy will prevail.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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