Homeowner who captured thieves on camera told to take footage offline - because he didn't get criminals' consent

Robert Waters filmed burglars in his Dublin home and put the footage online to warn others, only to receive an email from the Data Protection Commissioner last week ordering him to remove the CCTV images

A homeowner who made a website showing CCTV of thieves in his house has been threatened with jail unless he takes it down - because he didn’t have the burglars' consent.

Robert Waters filmed criminals in his Dublin home and put the footage online to warn others, only to receive an email last week ordering him to remove the CCTV images.

The dad-of-three had captured masked thieves climbing over the wall of his house before breaking in through a kitchen window and stealing jewellery and his children’s piggy banks.

But since creating the site, Mr Waters has been threatened with a 100,000 Euro fine or a jail term - because of 'data protection'.

Cameras which he installed in his home in Killiney, south Dublin, showed them going from room to room in 'military precision' as they searched the house looking for valuables before fleeing within three or four minutes.

Mr Waters set up the site to warn other nearby homeowners, and encouraged other victims of crime to post their own images of criminals in the act to help catch them.

Two of the alleged thieves caught on camera outside Mr Waters' Dublin home. (Fran Veale/Rex)

Three alleged burglars make their way through Mr Waters' home. (Rex)

Framed: Another thief is caught in the act. (Fran Veale/Rex)


But within a couple of hours of ringing Joe Duffy on RTE Radio One's 'Liveline' show to publicise his website, Mr Waters got an email from the Data Protection Commissioner warning him that he is breaking the law by posting the images unless he has the prior consent of the criminals.

Mr Waters said: ‘I've had more sleepless nights over the Data Protection Commissioner than I have had over the burglary.’

 

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The warning states: 'We note the noble intentions of the site to assist in the identification of criminals who were captured on film engaged in criminal acts. This office views a photograph or image of an individual as personal data.'

It adds that a 'data controller' can only process someone's personal data with their consent under the Data Protection Acts.

 

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The warning also claims there is no exemption 'for the purpose of identifying potential criminals' other than a website run by Garda.

Mr Waters was then advised that he could be prosecuted under the Data Protection Acts if he continued to post the images and face a jail term or maximum fine of 100,000 Euros.

Robert has temporarily removed images and footage of criminals caught in the act from his website after receiving communication from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.