Covert recording equipment is becoming more and more popular as a way of ensuring that people who come to work on your property aren’t getting up to anything untoward. Whether you want to see how your nanny or childminder acts when you aren’t around, or you want to keep an eye on tradesmen working on your house, a hidden camera is the easiest way to do it. However, some people are unclear on where the law stands with regards to this kind of surveillance, because it involves filming people without their consent.
Can I Put Hidden Cameras in My House Without Telling Visitors?
In most states, it is perfectly legal to use a hidden camera to watch people working on your property, as a way of ensuring the safety of your family and property. However, states differ as to the subtleties around these laws. In most cases, you are not allowed to place the cameras anywhere where the person you’re watching has a reasonable right to privacy, for example in your bathroom, or, if they are in a live in working position (for example an au pair), their bedroom.
The reasons you have for recording them can also affect the legality. If you merely want to ensure they aren’t doing anything illegal, or which you have forbidden in their terms of employment, this is acceptable. However, you must not film them with the intention of gathering blackmail material or anything else you might use maliciously or inappropriately.
What About Outside My Property?
You are generally within your rights to use a CCTV camera system to watch the areas around your property, including public areas or exposed parts of neighboring land, for security purposes. However, if your cameras can see into a neighbor’s home or a private area (such as a fenced in yard or a pool area) this may not be acceptable, both legally and socially. Generally, it is best to check the laws in your state and ask your neighbors how they feel about it before installing any cameras that will capture things other than those happening on your own land.
What About Audio Surveillance?
The laws around recording sound are slightly different to those concerning video, so if you intend to capture audio as well as video in your home then you should definitely check out what is considered legal in your state. You may be able to record some sound, for example you may be able to record your nanny talking to your children. However other things may be expressly forbidden, like bugging the phone and recording both sides of conversations between your nanny and her family and friends.
In most cases, you can find out what you need to know about your staff and their behavior just by watching with cameras, so unless you particularly need to hear what they are saying (for example if you are worried about the language they might be using in front of your children) it is best to avoid audio recordings.
The contributor of today’s post, Kate Harris, is a private investigator. She uses blogging to share her expertise on security systems. She believes that security locks and cameras are essential for both large and small scale companies.