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Security Cameras: 3 Steps to Avoiding Legal Implications

Security cameras gained popularity in the 70s when financial institutions and government agencies adopted it as a measure of securing their installations. Fast forward to years present, virtually every public place and private asset has surveillance cameras.

While the role of video surveillance in preventing crime is important, it can bring up several legal issues if not used according to existing rules. It doesn’t matter whether what you have is a nanny-cam or a sophisticated IP video surveillance system, you could be at risk of landing lawsuits if you are unaware of the position of your country’s or state’s laws about security cameras.

Therefore, to avoid going contrary, we have identified 3 actions for you to take:

1. Know Where to Place Your Cameras

Surveillance cameras can be installed both within and outside a structure. Exterior cameras are installed in strategic places in order to capture any form of accident or intrusion. In most cases, this is fair since we do not generally have a right to privacy outdoors which is deemed a public place.

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However, a legal issue could result if an outside camera is placed in an area where privacy is expected. On the other hand, indoor cameras are expected to cover only general areas. Thus, a camera situated in private areas like hotel rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms and dressing rooms could constitute a breach of privacy.

As a general rule of thumb, it is illegal to place surveillance cameras where a high degree of privacy is expected.

2. Be Conversant With The Law

Since regulations vary with location and time, you should find out about what applies to your location before installing surveillance cameras. In the US, for instance, federal laws prohibiting hidden cameras in public places are non-existent. Regulations in most states align with this as well, although the same cannot be said about surveillance of private places. In some states, only visible cameras can be used legally in both public and private places while dual consent is required to put private places under surveillance in others.

In Georgia, it is illegal to use hidden cameras in both public and private places, whereas the regulations in Florida, Minnesota, and Alabama allow surveillance in public places only, using both covert and visible cameras. Furthermore, it is absolutely illegal to use video surveillance systems without consent in Hawaii.

There is a similar situation in South Dakota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Kansas, and Maine, where users of security video cameras are compelled to seek consent. In states like California, New York, Michigan, Utah and Tennessee it is illegal to use hidden cameras in places where complete privacy is expected whether consent is sought or not.

Therefore, before deciding to utilize any form of video surveillance system, it is pertinent to consider the laws governing video monitoring in your state to avoid litigations bordering on invasion of privacy. As the mantra goes, when it comes to law, ignorance is not an excuse!

3. Create Awareness

To avoid being on the wrong side of the law, ensure everyone visiting your premises knows your property is under video surveillance. Assuming the law in your state allows keeping private places such as locker rooms under surveillance; clearly visible signs should accompany the cameras in such places to inform users of the system in place.

However, extra precautions should be taken when disclosing your use of security cameras to avoid an unintentional invitation to hackers. So, the responsibility is on you to take necessary measures to prevent footages from your cameras from being used for purposes other than record keeping. This could be by way of using a well-secured Wi-Fi connectivity or creating strong passwords for your devices.

In all, installing video monitoring systems to enhance the security of your assets shouldn’t put you at a disadvantage. So, it is safer to consult a security company with adequate knowledge of current laws guiding video surveillance for advice. 

Ready to implement video surveillance on your property, but haven't yet pulled the trigger? Download our free resource to learn which security solution is right for your business.

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