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Question Privacy law and video cameras

Allgone

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A neighbour points his car security camera directly at our house so he gets footage of who and what comes and goes through our main entrance door.

Is this entirely legal, or do we have grounds for lodging an official complaint with authorities to get it stopped?

We are aware we should take up the issue with the neighbour directly as a first step, but the purpose of this post is to ascertain whether we have any legal recourse if that proves unsuccessful.

Thanks in advance for any advice that clarifies.
 

johnnyG

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I'm not sure of the legality, but if it's obvious to people coming and going (or even if not), look at the safety/security side of it--if something happens at your house, the police could easily ask to review his recordings.

Eg., several years ago I came home one day late in November, and something was off... Someone had literally grabbed my snow tires (and just before they were going to be switched). Studless, on aluminum rims. I went to the police and filed a report, they came and took pictures and so on, and nothing happened. If we (or a neighbor) had had a camera, maybe it would have gotten these people and/or their license plate number.
 

Allgone

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I'm not sure of the legality, but if it's obvious to people coming and going (or even if not), look at the safety/security side of it--if something happens at your house, the police could easily ask to review his recordings.

Eg., several years ago I came home one day late in November, and something was off... Someone had literally grabbed my snow tires (and just before they were going to be switched). Studless, on aluminum rims. I went to the police and filed a report, they came and took pictures and so on, and nothing happened. If we (or a neighbor) had had a camera, maybe it would have gotten these people and/or their license plate number.

For the security of our property, we can rely on our own cameras and other measures. This guy has his camera pointing at our front door, recording all comings and goings for him to make available to anyone he likes, not just the police. That's a privacy issue. We are primarily interested in learning what legal options are open to us if we end up travelling that route.
 

TGI-ECT

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Might I be allowed to ask how it is you are cognizant of what the individual has recorded? You do not seem to be speculating in your statements here, and that is why I am wondering what has you so sure as to what the person has in his files. Of course, you may not be able to answer that because the source of your information needs to be protected; so I'd understand that, if that is the case.
 

Majestic

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Just anecdotally, I can tell you that when a neighbor had their security camera pointed at our building, residents in our building complained and the police immediately told the neighbor that it wasn't OK to point the camera directly at our building. As you say, it is a privacy issue, and I think people in Japan are very vocal about this, so no need to be shy.

Tell your neighbor you appreciate his/her concern for security around your house, but that you can take care of it yourself and are nervous about privacy issues, so could he please point the camera at his own front door.
 

Glenski

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I don't know any legalities here.
If you are on speaking terms with the neighbor, there are several ways to approach it.
1. You could in a very friendly way openly admire his camera and ask to compare it with yours, and at that point feign surprise at where it is aimed, thus asking him if it is correctly positioned.
2. You could directly ask him how wide a field his lens captures the picture. Who knows if it is recording some of his own area, too.
3. Be bold and ask if his camera has slipped out of position, and if he says no, politely confront him with what it is meant to record on your own porch.

How long ago did he set up the camera?
 

Allgone

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Just anecdotally, I can tell you that when a neighbor had their security camera pointed at our building, residents in our building complained and the police immediately told the neighbor that it wasn't OK to point the camera directly at our building. As you say, it is a privacy issue, and I think people in Japan are very vocal about this, so no need to be shy.

Tell your neighbor you appreciate his/her concern for security around your house, but that you can take care of it yourself and are nervous about privacy issues, so could he please point the camera at his own front door.
That's interesting. I didn't think the police would be willing to get involved. Well, there's an option that won't cost a cease-and-desist letter if we do not get a result from polite requests. I'm not known for being adeptly polite, so I may involve one of those very polite Japanese people in the diplomatic approach. Thanks for the information.
 

Allgone

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I don't know any legalities here.
If you are on speaking terms with the neighbor, there are several ways to approach it.
1. You could in a very friendly way openly admire his camera and ask to compare it with yours, and at that point feign surprise at where it is aimed, thus asking him if it is correctly positioned.
2. You could directly ask him how wide a field his lens captures the picture. Who knows if it is recording some of his own area, too.
3. Be bold and ask if his camera has slipped out of position, and if he says no, politely confront him with what it is meant to record on your own porch.

How long ago did he set up the camera?
The camera is in his car, and we know for sure it is pointed at our street entrance door. Once we are absolutely sure of our legal grounds, the extent of our diplomacy will be to not get the police involved right away, but to ask that the neighbour correct the situation himself.
 

nice gaijin

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The camera is in his car, and we know for sure it is pointed at our street entrance door. Once we are absolutely sure of our legal grounds, the extent of our diplomacy will be to not get the police involved right away, but to ask that the neighbour correct the situation himself.
Up until this point I thought it was a security camera on his property pointed at your house... but are you talking about a dashcam?

Can't tell without knowing the model, but most dashcams don't record unless the car is running or jolted (like someone hitting a parked car).
 

Allgone

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Up until this point I thought it was a security camera on his property pointed at your house... but are you talking about a dashcam?

Can't tell without knowing the model, but most dashcams don't record unless the car is running or jolted (like someone hitting a parked car).
It likely is a dashcam. I don't know if it can record only what happens in front of the vehicle, or if it has other angles. In this case it records when parked and the engine is off. I expect that's an option the owner can select -- and does select.
 

johnnyG

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Can't tell without knowing the model, but most dashcams don't record unless the car is running or jolted (like someone hitting a parked car).

Likely exactly what any police would tell you.

You didn't have any knowledge of this before asking here?

(and I also thought you meant something mounted on their house)
 

Majestic

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Yeah - I thought it was a home-mounted system too.
I don't know if anyone will give you any sympathy if you are fretting over a car recorder.
 

Allgone

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Up until this point I thought it was a security camera on his property pointed at your house... but are you talking about a dashcam?

Can't tell without knowing the model, but most dashcams don't record unless the car is running or jolted (like someone hitting a parked car).
It likely is a dashcam. I don't know if it can record only what happens in front of the vehicle, or if it has other angles. In this case it records when parked and the engine is off. I expect that's an option the owner can select -- and does select.
Likely exactly what any police would tell you.

You didn't have any knowledge of this before asking here?

(and I also thought you meant something mounted on their house)

In the first sentence of my opening post: "A neighbour points his car security camera directly at our house..."

As I said, we know for a fact it is recording the comings and goings through our front door when the car is parked. I don't see what difference it makes, from a privacy perspective, where the camera is mounted.

We're not seeking sympathy. It's only advice about what grounds we have for getting this stopped.

It seems we'll need to take it to a lawyer to be sure.. I can feel a fixed-fee consultation coming up.
 

Uncle Frank

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As a former police officer , my first thought would be , "why are you worried , what are you hiding". Probably not a good idea to get them involved. Maybe see if you can find out who makes the camera and then Google it to see when it is recording. Common sense says it does not have the capacity to record for long on a sim type card. My guess would be , it only records when the ignition is on while the car is being used , not while parked.
 

Glenski

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Well, this has taken a slightly different turn. "Car security camera". I took that to mean a camera on the house meant to protect his driveway where the car is parked.

we know for a fact it is recording the comings and goings through our front door when the car is parked.
Just how do you know? Have you seen the video?

Rather than wasting more time here soliciting opinions here, just do something. I suggest taking the polite approach and directly talk to him. I suspect he can't park his car in any other direction, so you might just start by asking if the camera is on all the time.
 

jt9258

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A neighbour points his car security camera directly at our house so he gets footage of who and what comes and goes through our main entrance door.

Is this entirely legal, or do we have grounds for lodging an official complaint with authorities to get it stopped?

We are aware we should take up the issue with the neighbour directly as a first step, but the purpose of this post is to ascertain whether we have any legal recourse if that proves unsuccessful.

Thanks in advance for any advice that clarifies.

There are in car camera's that record when the engine is not running.

Is it legal? the simple answer is NO.

Your right to privacy is protected under the constitution and the civil code.
 

Uncle Frank

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Did it occur to you that police around the world , regardless of their country , tend to think alike. My interactions with Japanese police in the time I lived there in Japan in the early 70's showed me they were the same as US cops of the 50's.
 

jt9258

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Did it occur to you that police around the world , regardless of their country , tend to think alike. My interactions with Japanese police in the time I lived there in Japan in the early 70's showed me they were the same as US cops of the 50's.

Really!!

Making comparisons does not make it right.

Your statements are based on the modern day thinking that a person should give
up their liberty for freedom, which is utter nonsense.

As I have stated earlier in this thread, a persons right to privacy in Japan is protected
under the constitution and the civil code.

Additionally your comments are based on your experiences over 40 years ago.
 
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Majestic

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I think the difference between a car trip recorder and a home security camera is that one is meant to be portable and presumably functions a certain way when the car is in motion, while a home security system tends to record continuously and because of its stationary location it implies a certain intent if it is deliberately pointed at your house.

Another thing that comes up several times is the certainty of his recording your house, which makes all of us raise our eyebrows and think, "how does Allgone know this?" "has Allgone seen the video?". If you have some kind of evidence of your neighbor's recording your activity (i.e. using the dashboard recorder for a purpose other than to prevent car theft or to record a trip), then it would seem you have an airtight case of invasion of privacy.

When I mentioned seeking sympathy, I meant that officialdom will have to have some sense of how you have been victimized.
 

jt9258

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I think the difference between a car trip recorder and a home security camera is that one is meant to be portable and presumably functions a certain way when the car is in motion.

The camera's you can buy today include "Parking Surveillance" & "Always Recording"

It has to be considered that the OP's neighbor may have issues living near a foreigner.

Depending on the size of the SD card, it is possible to record from 4 to 40 hours of data.
 

Allgone

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Okay folks, thanks for knowledge and the other contributions. It's time for us to take this to the next step.
 

joadbres

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Okay folks, thanks for knowledge and the other contributions. It's time for us to take this to the next step.

When you have updates, please post them here. Iinformation from your experience could be quite valuable to users of this forum. And you may also get valuable advice regarding how to respond at each stage.
 

Allgone

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Updates then: Privacy is enshrined in the Japan constitution, just as jt9258 said, but that defines the privacy of the individual from the state. There is no legislation that defines the privacy of the individual from other individuals. There are, however, legal precedents in the form of civil cases that have been won (and lost). Some involved security cameras, and I can recall a case in which a politician's extramarital affair was exposed when his car's registration plate was caught while he was parked outside a certain abode. (I think I have that right.) And now you'll see that cars appearing on Google Maps street view have their numbers masked. There's also stuff like this out there.

None of this explains why the police got involved in the case described here by Majestic. Perhaps because they were pressed by a number of residents in the affected building at the same time? Perhaps there was an element of voyeurism? I'm still not clear on how the law would handle "upskirting", peeping toms and the like.

For our part, we will move forward with polite diplomacy. If that fails, the next steps open to us are to check if the police are willing, and then an attorney's letter.
 
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