Legal Do’s and Don’ts of Home Defense
When deciding to use a security system for your home that includes cameras, several legal issues need to be considered when having them installed and what the overall purpose of the camera is. In some cases, these cameras can get you into some trouble.
Recording Outside of Your Home
It’s a smart idea for your security to put some cameras outside of your home, especially the doors. This is completely legal, especially because it’s recording areas outside of your house that is visible to the public eye if someone were to walk by. However, it is important to be careful of what you are recording. If your angle is titled a particular direction, such as toward your neighbor’s property, you are allowed to record that area as long as it anywhere the public would usually see.
The idea is that you can record anywhere there isn’t a reasonable expectation of privacy. Beyond that, you could be in trouble, such as if your camera happened to point towards a window and has visual inside. When a company, such as ADT Security Systems, comes out to install your system, they will set them up pointing in areas that are completely legal. How long does it take to install an ADT security system? Only two hours, so it’s always a good idea to let a technician do the work for you and save yourself from time. Also, many companies will offer you signs or stickers that tell people your home is monitored, which acts as an excellent deterrent.
Recording Inside Your Home
You are allowed to have video cameras inside your home to ensure security, and you don’t necessarily have to tell anyone or post signs anywhere letting people know. Keep in mind that you still can’t post a camera in an area where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Somewhere, where someone would be undressed, is off-limits, so bathrooms, changing rooms, and bedrooms are not a place to put a camera. The living room is a good place because there isn’t an expectation of privacy there, as well as the kitchen, garage, etc. However, you can’t post videos of other people online without their consent or for any commercial gain. It’s important to note that anyone that breaks into your home does not have the comfort of privacy, and can be recorded and handed over to the police as that is a crime.
Recording with Audio
Here is where the large problem lies. More and more cameras are wi-fi operated and have the option of recording audio, which is seen as wire-tapping. You cannot record someone via audio without their consent, which is why phone companies or bill collectors say that your call is being recorded. They have to disclose that information to you. The minimum, in general, is that one person of the party must know that they are being recorded. Because that is the minimum set by the federal government, you cannot go any lower than that, and those rules vary depending on the state. This means you can’t record any conversations that you’re not a part of. They also cannot be used for eavesdropping.
If you’re using the audio and visual for your protection and plan on keeping it to yourself, it’s okay to have. Bear in mind that you should be careful where you put your cameras in your home as hackers have been able to cut in on the feed and stream it live. Avoid this by setting up the system with the manufacturer and then changing the password immediately, and on a monthly basis. Most companies will offer to set it up for you from start to finish and explain how it works.