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Shayne Stone

Champions Real Estate Group
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Video Doorbells and Privacy: Maintaining a Balance

October 6th, 2019



How to Video Doorbells Work?

Video doorbells use motion detectors to sense when there is someone around the area where the doorbell is installed. This activates the camera, even before the doorbell itself is rung. The process is automatic; many mistakenly believe that the video feed from the devices have to be activated through interaction with the doorbell, but that isn’t the case. Depending on the model and how it’s being used, the visitor who activated the doorbell is either recorded or the video stream is sent live to an associated app. In some cases, video is both streamed and recorded for later review.

What Privacy Concerns Exist?

One of the big privacy concerns comes from what some users are doing with the video recorded by their doorbells. While the recordings are intended for security purposes, some owners choose to upload the videos (or still images from those videos) to websites where others can see exactly who has been visiting their house. Typically, this is done with the purpose of mocking the visitors without their knowledge or consent. In some cases, they may not even realize that they’re being recorded.

Even without sharing the videos, some video doorbells record a large enough area that they also record portions of neighbors’ properties when activated. This creates a similar concern to the installation of standard security cameras that might target a neighbor’s property. This could cause significant privacy problems if too much of the neighbor’s property is visible and may even open the owner up to action based on the claim that they are recording what the neighbor is doing.

On top of this, some video doorbell owners are also becoming increasingly nervous about their devices as the video doorbell manufacturer Ring has partnered with law enforcement agencies in some areas. While the police do not have unrestricted access to video feeds, they can send out messages requesting images or footage from doorbell owners in the area where a crime was committed. Though the request is voluntary, it has still led to unease among users who don’t want their devices used for neighborhood surveillance purposes.

Privacy-Related Restrictions

As a result of these concerns, some homeowners’ associations and local ordinances have targeted video doorbells. In some cases, they aren’t allowed at all, while in others, only certain brands can be installed, which are known to have a narrow focus. A failure to abide by these restrictions can lead to tickets, action by the homeowners’ association and in some cases, even legal action or eviction.

Finding a Balance

Finding a balance between home security and the privacy rights of your neighbors isn’t always easy. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for compromise, however. There are professionals who can help you find the right video doorbell to meet your needs without sacrificing your neighbor’s rights to stay private. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account so we can match you with a security-minded pro who can help you find the perfect device to achieve that privacy/security balance.


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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®

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I've been in some form of real estate since my early days! And now with all my expertise, I can enjoy helping those that want to either purchase / sell their first home or investment properties...
Champions Real Estate Group
245 Commerce Green Suite 151, Sugar Land, TX 77478   Get Directions
Phone: (713) 785-6666
Fax: (713) 785-6631
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