Woman Left Horrified After Mobile Phone Repair Shop Worker Scrolls Through Her Intimate Photos – Is This A Breach Of UK GDPR?

Louise Johnson took her mobile phone to a repair shop to be fixed on 13 November 2021. When she went to collect the phone she caught a male worker in the shop looking at intimate photos of her which she had taken for her boyfriend. Louise called the Police who attended the shop and confirmed that the CCTV had shown the man looking through her phone.

Police however confirmed that they could not do anything further as the man had not downloaded or shared the images and therefore no laws had been broken. Within this blog, we are going to look at whether the Police’s standpoint is correct and whether Louise would have any remedy under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

Relevant laws

The UK GDPR applies to the processing of personal data. Personal data includes any information relating to natural persons who can be identified from the data. In Louise Johnson’s case, we are talking about photos. It is, therefore, safe to assume that Louise would be identifiable and therefore the photographs would fall under the definition of personal data for the purpose of UK GDPR. It then must be questioned whether by looking at the photographs the man processed the data in line with the definition present within the UK GDPR.

Processing is defined within the UK GDPR as:

any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaption or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.”

It, therefore, cannot be said that simply looking at a photograph can be regarded as “processing”, unless the Courts were to accept that him looking at the photographs amounted to use. It would have been a lot clearer if, for example, the man had downloaded the photographs or sent them to someone else, as this would clearly fall within the definition of processing the data and would have been subject to the provisions of the UK GDPR.

louise johnson photos

How Nelsons can help

Ruby Ashby is an Associate in our expert Dispute Resolution team.

Should you be affected by any data protection issues, please do not hesitate to contact Ruby or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.

Contact us