Before you install surveillance cameras in your home or business, there are a few things you need to know.
Whether you’re looking to keep your home or your business more secure, surveillance cameras can be a great option. Not only does the mere presence of surveillance cameras help to deter crimes, but the footage provided by these cameras may play a key role in bringing about justice if a crime is committed. Surveillance cameras can be a very powerful tool for homeowners and business owners alike, but before you turn to our experts for surveillance camera installation in Los Angeles, there are a few things you need to know.
#1. General Filming Restrictions
Where you choose to install your surveillance cameras is an important part of how effective they can be. After all, if your camera is facing the wrong way, it can’t provide any real protection or deterrent. However, there’s more to location than just which direction your camera is facing. Placing a surveillance camera in the wrong area could land you in hot water from a legal standpoint, especially if you are a business owner. As a general rule, you are only allowed to record areas that are viewable to the public. You are not allowed to place your camera in an area where privacy is reasonably expected. This includes other people’s homes, as well as restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms in businesses. When considered where to install your security cameras, you should always ask yourself if the location will violate another person’s privacy.
#2. Filming Restriction Loopholes
It’s a well-known fact that businesses are not allowed to place security cameras in bathrooms, fitting rooms or dressing rooms. That’s probably why these private areas are the center of most theft in retail stores. So how do you keep these areas of your business safe without violating the law? While you can’t put a camera in the bathroom, fitting room or dressing room, you can install a camera at the entrance, so that you can keep an eye on people going in and out. This will give you a much clearer idea of what’s going on without violating the privacy of your customers. For example, if a customer walks into a dressing room with merchandise and out of it without merchandise, and the dressing room is empty, the surveillance footage could be evidence of a crime.
#3. Audio Recording Restrictions
According to Federal law, one person must know that a recording is taking place. That means that you cannot record conversations that you are not a part of, unless you’ve obtained consent from one of the parties. This protects people and businesses from using surveillance equipment to eavesdrop on others. Here in California, however, state law expands on the Federal law to say that a conversation can only be recorded if both parties consent. This law applies to any location where there is an “objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation.” This includes private spaces, but it can also be extended to semi-public areas, such as restaurants or retail stores. This is why most surveillance cameras do not include microphones.
#4. Audio Recording Restriction Loopholes
The best way to avoid legal trouble when using surveillance cameras and recording devices is to ensure that all parties are aware that they are being recorded. A great example of this is that message that you hear when you call a 1-800 number — “this call may be recorded…” That simple expression of intent to record informs the parties of the surveillance and gives them the ability to discontinue the call if they do not want to be recorded. In your business, this same intent can be expressed by putting up clear and visible signs that inform your customers and clients that they are being recorded. This allows them to determine if they want to continue their conversation, or if they prefer to finish it when they are not being recorded.
#5. Recording Your Employees
In addition to all of the ins and outs associated with surveilling your clients, customers and neighbors, there are additional considerations when you’re surveilling your employees. You cannot place surveillance cameras in any location where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy. California courts have found that employees can have a reasonable expectation of privacy in open, shared work areas, which can include break rooms, cubicles, offices, file rooms, etc. Surveilling your employees becomes even more complicated where unions are concerned. It’s illegal to record union meetings, union activities or even discussions about unions.
It’s important to stay in compliance with all state and federal laws when installing surveillance cameras in your home or business, and in our next blog, we’ll be going over a few tips to ensure compliance. Please stay tuned to learn more, and contact us at XYZ Security today about your surveillance camera needs.