When you decide to install home security cameras, where you place your cameras and how you use your footage is important to consider. For maximum protection, it is recommended to monitor common areas as well as possible points of entrance. While home surveillance is not banned, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid breaking the law.
Home Surveillance Concerns
Within your home, you do have the right to record without informing others, but there are very large exceptions to this rule. First, any area where a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is assumed is off limits. For example, if your home security cameras are monitoring your front yard and possibly the sidewalk and street, your expectation of privacy in these areas is low. On the other hand, bathrooms and bedrooms, where you may be in a state of undress, have a high expectation of privacy, and, thus, are prohibited.
Second, if your cameras enable audio recording, you may want to brush up on wiretapping laws. While these vary slightly from state to state, federal statutes allow audio recording so long as one of the two parties consents. This basically means that you, as the recorder, may know and give consent without informing the other party. However, some states, including California, require dual consent, meaning both parties must be aware and agree to be recorded.
In regards to recording burglars, any trespassers forfeit any expectation of privacy in your home. You may record the person, submit the footage to police, and use your video in court.
For cameras that run non-stop and record audio, you will want to warn any person that is allowed access to your home that these cameras are there and running, otherwise you may run the risk of breaking wiretapping laws. These people include family members, guests/visitors, delivery persons or installers.
The Consent Conundrum
You may now be wondering how you can lawfully gain dual consent. Will verbal consent or a surveillance sticker in the window suffice, or should you have every guest fill out a consent form upon entering? Unfortunately, consent for audio recordings must be given in written form. It is a common misconception that window decals or yard signs are sufficient means to gain consent, as it is expected for visitors to see and recognize them.
However, in a home setting, there may be an exception to the rule. With home cameras, it boils down to what you do, or intend to do, with your recordings. If you don’t do anything with the recording, it is likely that no one will know or care – no harm, no foul.
If you do something with the recording, things change. For example, say a celebrity is a guest in your home and now you have footage of this celebrity hanging out in your home. While selling this footage to a gossip magazine for profit may seem enticing, you will be breaking the law. First, consent was never given from this celebrity. Second, you cannot use a recording for commercial gain without the subject’s consent.
In regards to wiretapping, a possible solution is to simply turn off audio recording if your devices permit. However, why turn off a service that you have paid for? While thieves are usually fairly quiet while they work, using audio recording for eavesdropping may be beneficial (but puts forth yet another ethical dilemma).
Uses For Recordings
Let’s say you record someone in your home plotting a crime, or admitting to committing a crime. Most states allow you to use the recording to prevent a crime or prove that one was committed.
However, if the recording does not involve a crime and you decide to post it on YouTube or a social media site, you could be engaging in illegal activity. Using a recording for exploitive or commercial purposes (as in the previous celebrity example) may be misappropriation if not all parties consent. As a reminder, laws vary from state to state so please look into your own state’s laws.
Also, even within your own home, recording with the intention of blackmail is illegal.
Law enforcement has the right to ask for your home surveillance if they suspect illegal activity, and a warrant will likely be necessary. However, since most recordings are stored in the cloud, they may be able to go straight to the provider and obtain the footage, bypassing your permission to access.
What Should You Do?
To err on the side of caution, be sure that everyone entering your home is aware that the cameras are there, and avoid placing them in areas where privacy is expected. If you wish to withhold the information, so long as you do not do anything with the footage, you should be fine.
However, there are other reasons to be careful with the privacy of your security cameras. While you may not have the intention to do bad things, hackers may be able to access your cameras and broadcast your feed. To protect yourself and your guests, it is advised to take reasonable security precautions (ex. strong passwords, maintain security Wi-Fi network), and take the ethical high road when using new technology.
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Shop our inventory online and you’ll find security cameras or systems that fit within your budget. Would you rather get a quote based on your needs? Fill out our Free CCTV System Quote and work with our staff to create a security system within your means. Feel free to call us at 1-888-203-6294 with any questions you may have.
When reviewing your surveillance footage, have you ever wondered what the people in the video are saying? If you install an audio camera, you would no longer have to wonder.
Audio cameras are security cameras with built-in microphones. The added audio aspect to video footage greatly enhances surveillance systems. When pictures are unclear, or individuals are just out of viewing range, the audio can help identify the person(s).
When installing an audio camera, it is important to consider the connections required for audio input. Be sure that your DVR is able to support the audio feature, or you may be inclined to take advantage of RCA connectors or AV (audio & video) cables. These options may limit confusion as less excess equipment is required.
Another crucial aspect is the fact that people must be informed that audio security cameras are being employed. It must be explicitly stated so that people are aware that they are being recorded, both visually and audibly. It is likely that you have seen these signs in various stores or banks stating that you are being monitored. This warning could very well prevent a crime from happening as criminals will fear being caught.
Still, there is controversy over the invasive nature of audio security cameras, as well as security cameras in general, especially in public places. While there are laws to regulate audio security camera use, people still believe it is a gross invasion of privacy. On the other hand, audio security cameras can be extremely helpful when catching criminals or thieves. Video surveillance with an audio component can provide compelling evidence when convicting a criminal.
Use of audio cameras within your security system is solely up to you. Weighing options will help you decide whether audio security cameras are right for your system. If you need any assistance, visit us at SecurityCamExpert.com or give us a call at 1-888-203-6294.