Millions of homeowners could be accidentally breaking the law, leaving them susceptible to fines of up to £100,000 or even criminal charges.

Statistics show that nearly half of British homeowners have some form of surveillance system in place, from smart doorbells to full CCTV, but are they abiding by privacy laws?

While having a security system in place is not illegal, if cameras record anything outside of your property (for example a pavement or neighbour’s garden), you become beholden to the relevant laws around data protection. If you don’t abide by these rules, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is entitled to take action against you. is encouraging Brits to do their research into whether their home systems are compliant with the law.

Andy Simms, a property expert from, said: “If you have installed - or are considering installing - CCTV or smart cameras, there are certain guidelines you need to follow to ensure you are not breaking any rules or laws.

“It’s becoming increasingly popular to have home surveillance systems, and there are many obvious benefits to safety by installing one.

“While it’s not illegal to have CCTV and recording systems on your property, filming people secretly often is. It’s imperative that you follow the guidance and position correct signage about your systems, to avoid breaking the law.”

Is my smart doorbell breaking the law?

This is how to tell if your smart doorbell is breaking the law:

Follow GDPR rules

If your system captures people outside the boundary of your private property – such as your neighbours’ homes or gardens, shared spaces, or public areas – then the Data Protection Act (DPA) and GDPR will apply to you. If you do not comply with DPA/GDPR you may be subject to action and fines by the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) or face potential legal actions from any affected individuals. The points below guide you on how to follow the correct protocol to ensure you are abiding by the rules.

Put up signage

It is illegal to secretly film people, even on private property. You must erect signage in key positions, to adequately ensure that people who enter your property are aware that recording devices are in place. This also helps to support the systems’ key purpose - as a criminal deterrent. It is a lawful requirement to place signage in clear and appropriate locations. If you have cameras inside your property, signage is essential so visitors are aware recording is taking place.

Operate responsibly

If you are going to install CCTV at your home you need to ensure you are acting responsibly in order to protect the privacy of others. If not, you or the ICO may receive complaints from neighbours and other members of the public who are concerned that CCTV systems are being used to spy on them.

Let people know

Once you have decided to install CCTV or a smart camera at your home you will need to inform your neighbours and any one else that may be within the CCTV boundary. You will also need to put up any notices or signs to inform people that a recording is taking place if outside of your boundary. 

Storing the recorded information

There are various considerations to take into account when storing any recordings made.

Ensure the time and date is accurate in case you need to refer back to any footage and allow enough space for any footage for storage. Once footage has been obtained you should not store it for any longer than needed and delete once it is no longer needed. The recorded information must also be kept securely and only be used for the correct purposes including not sharing with anyone.

Any footage may be required to be viewed by the police in the case of any incidents, and if so it is vital you keep that footage in secure storage.