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What the law says about CCTV cameras at your home

In South Africa, the law allows for home surveillance through CCTV cameras, but out of respect for your neighbour, CCTV cameras should be used in a responsible way to respect the privacy of those around you.

 Our Constitution makes provision for a broad right to privacy. Therefore, even though there is nothing illegal about home CCTV cameras, problems can arise when you cross the line between monitoring your property and the property of somebody.

What does the law say

South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 which seeks to regulate the Processing of Personal Information, does not apply to purely household or personal activity.

However, when it comes to issues with your neighbour’s CCTV camera, common law would protect you, if:

  • The surveillance is of a voyeuristic or criminal nature;
  • The surveillance is creating a nuisance, preventing a person from the enjoyment of their property;
  • The area being monitored is one where someone would reasonably expect to have privacy, such as a bedroom or bathroom;
  • The installation of the cameras is the result of a neighbourhood dispute involving threatening behaviour, in which case an apprehended violence order may call for the cameras to be removed.

Guidelines to follow to avoid private issues with your neighbours

Even though CCTV surveillance is acceptable by law, there are guidelines to follow to avoid privacy issues with your neighbours. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  1. Respect Neighbors: Ensure that your camera is not angled in a way that captures your neighbour’s yard or driveway. Complaints about invasion of privacy can arise if your camera infringes on their space.
  2. Common Sense Placement: Use common sense when deciding where to place your cameras. Inform your neighbours about your system, and make sure you’re only monitoring your own property.
  3. Avoid Privacy Areas: Don’t point cameras directly at your neighbour’s property or areas where people would reasonably expect privacy (like bedrooms or bathrooms).
  4. Signage: If your cameras overlook the street, put up a sign to inform people that they are being monitored.
  5. Data Retention: Regularly delete recorded footage and only keep it for as long as necessary for property protection.

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Please note that the information provided in this blog post is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal guidance, we encourage you to reach out to our team of experienced attorneys.

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