Surveillance Laws You Need To Know

In general, most video recordings are legal in the U.S. with or without consent, however, it does pay to know the other laws that may affect you when you look to install video or audio surveillance equipment in your home or business.

First and foremost, the majority of laws that exist concerning video surveillance deal with one very simple yet concrete concept: the expectation of privacy. Laws do exist regarding “Invasion of Privacy” which deals with when you try to film someone in an area that they expect personal privacy. These include areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms, changing/dressing rooms, bedrooms and other areas where a person should expect a high level of protection from surveillance. Keep this in mind before you look to install a security camera in your home or business so that you won’t be invading certain privacy laws.

Next, take a look at hidden camera laws. Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in private places, or areas where a person may reasonably expect to be safe from unauthorized surveillance, such as locker rooms and restrooms.

Finally, keep in mind that audio surveillance is much more dangerous. If audio surveillance is taking place, it may be illegal under the following circumstances:

  1. The person with authority over the premises has not consented to the surveillance

  2. The reason for surveillance is for an illegal purpose

  3. The surveillance is taking place via telephone and parties in conversation have not been notified that they are being recorded.

Regardless of the state, it is almost always illegal to record a conversation to which you are not a party, do not have consent to tape, and could not naturally overhear.

If you have any questions about the laws that are unique to your state or community, feel free to contact your local legal or law enforcement offices for more details. Remember, it’s best to confirm with local authorities first before installing security equipment so that you are always in compliance.

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