A resident in Jalan Membina in Tiong Bahru has expressed unease with a digital doorbell camera installed at his new neighbour's door, as the camera's surveillance capabilities could lead to possible violation of privacy, according to Shin Min Daily News.
The two residents reportedly live in neighbouring units at Blk 27A Jalan Membina, on the 21st floor.
Resident A, a 63-year-old self-employed professional, claimed that his new neighbour had installed a doorbell that appeared to have a fitted camera, when they moved in during March 2021.
This resident told Shin Min reporters that his daughter-in-law had purportedly verified that it was indeed a doorbell camera, even though their new neighbour had said it was just a doorbell.
The daughter-in-law is understood to be working in a related industry and has knowledge of such devices.
The fitted camera had made them doubtful of the legality of the doorbell installation, reported Shin Min.
Resident A subsequently contacted various agencies about his concerns, and even sought the help of a town council member, but to no avail.
He said: "They removed the doorbell in April, but not long after, they reattached it on the wall. As far as I know, the camera is able to film 160 degrees, and will still shoot towards my doorway."
As the neighbours live opposite each other, Resident A explained that he was worried about the camera being able to film into the interior of his home, possibly infringing on the family's personal privacy.
He had later approached a Community Mediation Centre (CMC) to invite his neighbour for a mediation session, but the neighbour allegedly declined.
Doorbell camera is for parcel delivery purposes
Speaking to Shin Min, Resident B, a 31-year-old financial risk consultant, explained that they had installed a doorbell camera as his wife is not fluent in English, but is often home alone and they still need to accept various parcel deliveries.
The doorbell camera helps to facilitate communication with delivery personnel, even remotely.
He also claimed that the doorbell camera's surveillance capabilities allows it to record the movement of passers-by within a 1m radius.
Resident B added that he had also taken special care to avoid recording into his neighbour's home.
He pointed out that the town council staff and the police have visited him multiple times now, and he would have already been punished if he was truly violating the law.
"We're not in violation, and will not take it down. We also don't want to interact further with the other party, and only hope our neighbour understands."
Previous discussion on CCTV cameras at HDB areas
In a written Parliamentary answer in February 2021, the Ministry of National Development (MND) had clarified that HDB flat owners are not allowed to install CCTV cameras at their unit's main door, facing the common corridor or common areas, for privacy reasons.
However, residents may install CCTV cameras at the main door if they are facing safety issues, such as harassment from unlicensed moneylenders.
There was no mention of the instance where doorbell cameras are used.
Currently, those needing help with a neighbour dispute can turn to community mediation at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), or commence further legal proceedings at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT).
The CDRT can be accessed to settle neighbourly nuisance or conflict.
"Doorbell does not view into neighbour's unit"
In response to queries from Mothership, the Tanjong Pagar Town Council confirmed that they are aware of the case of neighbour dispute at Blk 27A Jalan Membina.
The Town Council said they have also checked that the doorbell does not look into the neighbour's unit:
"One of the residents had installed a door bell that detects the motion of a person when someone is at their door. We have checked and clarified that the doorbell does not view into the neighbour's unit."
It added that it will continue to work with grassroots leaders, to engage the residents involved to see how they can help.
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Top image via Shin Min Daily News