The Czech Data Protection Authority fined Mr. Rynes for filming members of the public without their consent. Mr. Rynes appealed, arguing that he was covered by the personal and household activities exemption.

The court decided that although the filming was for private purposes, it involved people that were not part of Mr. Rynes' private life. Therefore, Mr. Rynes was not covered by the exemption and had to comply with the GDPR.

Source: https://www.termsfeed.com/blog/gdpr-exemptions/#If_You_Re_Processing_Personal_Data_For_Domestic_Purposes

So if I take a picture of my family or filming them in a public place and strangers appears in the background, the GDPR applies to this case, therefore, I have to provide privacy policy?

  • 4
    If you click through to the cited case, you'll see it is about CCTV surveillance of public spaces by a private individual, not about family pictures that include other people in the background.
    – amon
    Apr 24, 2020 at 11:08
  • 3
    What does this have to do with the GDPR? The case happened in 2007, the court ruled in 2014, the GDPR was published in 2016 and became effective in 2018. Unless the judges are time travelers, the GDPR cannot possibly have anything to do with this. Also, "family pictures and videos in public places" is a very strange description of a surveillance camera. Apr 25, 2020 at 7:11
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    @JörgWMittag The GDPR is closely related to the previous data protection directive 95/46/EC, and succeeds it in EU law. Many passages are even lifted verbatim, so GDPR was not very novel, it mostly just turned a directive into a regulation. Case law on the old directive can often be applied directly in a GDPR context. But you are right that OP's source presents this very misleadingly.
    – amon
    Apr 25, 2020 at 7:53

2 Answers 2


The judgment linked to by the article says:

During the period from 5 October 2007 to 11 April 2008, Mr Ryneš installed and used a [continuously recording] camera system located under the eaves of his family home. The camera was installed in a fixed position and could not turn; it recorded the entrance to his home, the public footpath and the entrance to the house opposite. [my emphasis]

That is the context of the case.

He hadn't obtained consent from his neighbour to film the entrance to their home and therefore their family. He hadn't obtained consent from passers-by or warned them by means of a sign that there was a surveillance system monitoring that part of the public space.

The court ruled that:

The second indent of Article 3(2) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data must be interpreted as meaning that the operation of a camera system, as a result of which a video recording of people is stored on a continuous recording device such as a hard disk drive, installed by an individual on his family home for the purposes of protecting the property, health and life of the home owners, but which also monitors a public space, does not amount to the processing of data in the course of a purely personal or household activity, for the purposes of that provision. [my emphasis]

If you recorded or took photos of your family members enjoying walking through Trafalgar Square, a very busy public space, it's likely you could successfully claim it was a purely personal or household activity - if the authorities were at all bothered by it (which they are not).

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    It is important to distinguish between "interpreting" the statutory language and tweaking it. Here the court tweaked the statutory language. The court defies common sense by purporting that solely the contents of an item necessarily determine the purpose and/or the use of that item. Apr 24, 2020 at 12:55
  • And can I publish those family pictures and videos if there are strangers in the background without their consent?
    – user31127
    Apr 24, 2020 at 14:51
  • @AdriánSopár Depends on the jurisdiction and circumstances commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/…
    – Lag
    Apr 24, 2020 at 15:10
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    Wait what? Period from 2007 to 2008? Directive of 1995? This doesn't seem to be about the GDPR at all. Apr 25, 2020 at 5:33
  • So basically had the defendant positioned the camera so that it only sees his own entrance and not the entrance of the neighbor, probably the authorities wouldn't even have bothered?
    – vsz
    Apr 25, 2020 at 10:56

Do family pictures and videos in public places falls under GDPR?

If it is "by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity", no. See Article 2.2(c) of the GDPR.

Based on the information in your post, the Czech court made the wrong decision in the matter of Rynes. The GDPR nowhere requires that people in the recordings be involved in the person's private life. Instead, the regulation only considers the purpose(s) for which those records or data is (are) processed/used. The story has no indication that Rynes was using the data for purposes that would be within scope of the GDPR.

if I take a picture of my family or filming them in a public place and strangers appears in the background, the GDPR applies to this case

No. The circumstantial fact that strangers appear in the background at a public place does not imply that you are using the recording for something other than a purely personal or household activity. Therefore, application of the GDPR would require additional elements.

  • From a legal perspective we cannot say "the court made the wrong decision", unless a higher authority has ruled as such. We can say that in our opinion the decision was wrong, but that's an important distinction from saying the decision was wrong. By definition, the court's ruling is (for now) the one and only correct interpretation of the law, within that jurisdiction. With that said, I agree with the rest of your answer in that it seems like a poor decision to me.
    – JBentley
    Apr 25, 2020 at 21:11
  • @JBentley Judges will keep profiting for as long as we buy the dogma that "the truth is theirs": If a criminal attacks you, a judge's ruling to the contrary does not change the fact you have been the criminal's victim. The only thing one can say from a legal perspective is whether or not a court decision is controlling or legal precedent. Righteousness or accuracy of a decision is a different issue and does not depend on whether the decision was made by a higher "authority".The language of GDPR 2.2(c) is very clear and specific, a fact that leaves no room for the court's distorted version. Apr 26, 2020 at 11:52
  • I'm not disagreeing with your right to dislike the decision, but as a matter of law (as opposed to as a matter of it being morally right) the court's interpretation is correct until a higher court overturns it. This is a matter of definition, not a matter of one person's opinion versus another. Now you may very well say "I think the court's decision is wrong" but we're talking about a different usage of the word "wrong" to the legal one. I agree that in case the court seem to have interpreted the GDPR rather poorly.
    – JBentley
    Apr 26, 2020 at 20:18
  • @JBentley I'm glad our opinions coincide, but this goes beyond morality. The problem is that judges render the legal system more surreal, more disconnected from reality, more unreliable when they come up with that type of absurdities. By the same token, if judicial inventiveness & jus dare go unchecked, a court could rule that the law of gravity is unconstitutional. The Rynes decision hinders the legislative intent of uniformity among jurisdictions of the EU. Such legislative intent is palpable from the fact that the GDPR was enacted as a regulation and in order to replace a directive. Apr 26, 2020 at 22:24

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