Video surveillance systems are so commonplace that we often forget there are any privacy considerations at all in using them. Fortunately, using video surveillance is fairly straightforward and complying with laws governing privacy much easier than most people think.
The Lowdown on Privacy
Privacy laws are governed by state and federal laws and by common sense. The 4th Amendment grants us the right to privacy where privacy is reasonably expected, such as our home. This is why, for example, it is illegal to place surveillance cameras I n someone else’s home or to deliberately situate cameras on your property to surveil a neighbor. This is also why business owners can use cameras to cover a sales floor or register, because when you enter a public space you do not expect any level of privacy.
Residential Video Surveillance Systems
Many homeowners incorporate video surveillance into their home security systems because they are so useful in deterring crime. The laws concerning their use in homes are simple to understand, and even easier to follow. It is permissible to cover your property inside and out with video surveillance, except in places where you would expect privacy, such as in the bathroom. It is never permissible to situate cameras so that you can record footage to be use maliciously.
Workplace Video Surveillance Systems
Surveillance cameras in the workplace have become an extremely important tool in protecting the safety of employees and customers, reducing theft, and in thwarting violence. Implementing workplace video surveillance systems require a few more considerations, but complying with privacy laws is still quite easy.
In most cases, it is permissible to use cameras where people do not expect a level of privacy. For example, when you go to the store or mall, you expect to be seen and observed by many people so you do not have any expectation of privacy. It is reasonable to use cameras in public spaces including stores, offices, store rooms and covering the register for this reason.
Do not use video surveillance systems in places where people expect privacy, such as bathrooms, dressing rooms, bathroom stalls, exam rooms, or in hotel rooms. It is also important not to situate cameras in a way that provides views of these areas if a door opens.
A Few Special Considerations
Complying with privacy laws is easy, even in circumstances demanding special consideration, such as at medical facilities or in a school environment where children are concerned. In such cases there are additional considerations such as HIPPA regulations that require the cameras be carefully placed. Even in those instances you are still able to use them and leverage the benefits, however.
If you’d like more information about how to integrate video surveillance systems into your home or business security systems, feel free to give us a call. We are happy to answer your questions.