Co-operative housing association banned from using video surveillance in entrance and stairwell

Jun 18, 2020

Source: European Data Protection Board

The Swedish Data Protection Authority (DPA) has investigated a co-operative housing association’s use of video surveillance on its property. The DPA concludes that the association has gone too far when using video surveillance in the main entrance and the stairwell and when recording audio.

The Swedish DPA has received complaints claiming that a co-operative housing association monitors the stairwell in the association’s apartment building. The DPA has now finished an audit of the association.

The Swedish Data Protection Authority’s investigation shows that the association has four surveillance cameras installed. Two are located in the stairwell, one in the main entrance and one is directed towards a distribution box in the association’s storage room. All cameras record video and audio non-stop 24 hrs 7 days a week.

For the two cameras set up in the stairwell, the Swedish Data Protection Authority notes that these allow the association to map the habits, visits and social circle of the residents. “Already the fact that the surveillance is of the residents and their home environment means that it requires very strong reasons for the monitoring to be allowed,” writes the authority in its decision.

– Under special circumstances, a co-operative housing association may monitor a stairwell. However, in order for such surveillance to be allowed, the association must be able to demonstrate a pressing need for such video surveillance and that has not been the case here, says Nils Henckel, legal advisor at the Swedish DPA.

The third camera is set up at the main entrance and the association states that it is to combat problems with vandalism, which it had experienced during two months in 2018. The Swedish DPA stresses the obligation to continuously review whether a need for video surveillance is justified and concludes that no such need was still present to date.

As for the fourth camera, which is directed towards the distribution box, the DPA concludes that it must be re-directed so that it does not monitor the residents’ storage facilities.

Furthermore, the Swedish Data Protection Authority notes that audio recording constitutes an additional intrusion into the private sphere, in particular when recorded in a residential building, and that there are no circumstances that motivates such intrusion in this case.

The Swedish DPA also concludes that the association has failed to properly inform the residents about the video surveillance. That includes the lack of information about the data controller, where to turn to for further detailed information and that audio is recorded, which is a particularly severe omission.

The Swedish Data Protection Authority orders the co-operative housing association to stop the video surveillance of the stairwell and entrance, to cease audio recording for the surveillance camera by the distribution box and to improve the information provided concerning the video surveillance. The Swedish Data Protection Authority furthermore issues an administrative fine of 20 000 Swedish kronor (approximately 2 000 euro) against the association. When calculating the amount of the fine, consideration was taken to the fact that it was a smaller co-operative housing association.

To read the press release in Swedish, click here

For further information, please contact the Swedish SA: 

The press release published here does not constitute official EDPB communication, nor an EDPB endorsement. This press release was originally published by the national supervisory authority and was published here at the request of the SA for information purposes. As the press release is represented here as it appeared on the SA’s website or other channels of communication, the news item is only available in English or in the Member State’s official language with a short introduction in English. Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to the supervisory authority concerned.

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