Most video surveillance recording in the United States is legal with or without consent; however, several laws do exist regarding "Invasion of Privacy," which deals with the concept of expected privacy. This idea of expected privacy includes areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms, changing and dressing rooms, bedrooms, and other areas where a person may expect a certain level of personal privacy.
Most of the laws dealing with video recording privacy issues tend to allow covert recording and monitoring under most circumstances without notification of any of the parties involved. However, we strongly recommend that you consult with your local law enforcement or an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area prior to performing any video surveillance. This insures that, despite a general understanding of the law, you are complying with all local and federal regulations prior to utilization of video surveillance or monitoring. We at JLM Merchandise are not lawyers and do not provide legal advice, but are providing some general information for your convenience that we believe to be accurate at the time of this writing. This information does not preclude your responsibility for the lawful application of any surveillance you may perform. JLM Merchandise does not endorse unlawful use of any product we promote or sell.
The laws in thirteen states expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in "private" places. These states include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah. In these states, the installation or use of any device for photographing, observing or eavesdropping actions or audio in a "private" place without permission of those being observed or listened to is a crime punishable by law. Some states also prohibit trespassing on private property to conduct unauthorized surveillance of people there. These states include: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Utah. In most of these states, the unauthorized installation or use of Hidden Cameras (those that are seen as violating 4th Amendment rights to privacy) is a felony offense. Violating such laws is punishable by a $2,000.00 fine and a sentence of up to 2 years in prison.
Hidden Cameras in the Workplace
The idea of Hidden Cameras in the workplace is a relatively new one. Companies that are concerned with the on-the-job activities of their employees can legally obtain permission to install hidden cameras; however, without such legal permission to install the cameras, any findings from the surveillance tapes would be useless in enforcing disciplinary measures as stern as dismissal.
In a fairly recent example (July 2005), a 2-1 panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court upheld a finding that Anheuser-Busch committed an unfair labor practice when it installed hidden cameras. The brewer had fired five workers in 1998 after Hidden Cameras showed the employees smoking marijuana in an area where workers sometimes take breaks at one of its St. Louis facilities. The example of the Anheuser-Busch case is relevant because of the fact that it touches upon all relevant issues surrounding not only privacy, but also privacy and surveillance in the workplace. Anheuser-Busch argued that the cameras were a matter of internal security and that employees should not be awarded the expectation of privacy in areas that were not official break areas.
The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) has allowed hidden cameras in the workplace for a long time, only demanding that the company bargains with the union prior to installation. However, the company does not have to disclose where the cameras are placed, thus allowing most or all of them to be hidden.
Despite the protection from hidden cameras that labor members may get, small-office employees and other non-union workers have very little they can say in opposition to such issues. Due to the absence of legal precedent in this area, small business owners and mid-level managers of large companies are able to get away with just about anything they want. While there is a common law of privacy in every state, such laws are very rarely used in surveillance cases, especially those pertaining to an employee’s conduct while on the job. The way the law stands that this very moment, an employer can, for the most part, put a hidden camera anywhere (including the restroom), and there's little, if anything, that anyone can do about it.
If you are considering installation of video surveillance in your place of business, we carry a full line of professional-grade law enforcement surveillance equipment, as well as 4, 8, and 16-channel DIY hidden security camera DVR systems.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
We are proud to announce that we now carry a full line of LawMate law enforcement surveillance equipment and counter-surveillance products. We are getting them up on the site as fast as we can, so keep checking back. If there's something that you're looking for in particular and don't see it, chances are we just don't have it up yet, so please contact us. Writing descriptions and creating content does take some time, so please bear with us! We will also be attending the International Security Conference and Exposition (ISC WEST) in Las Vegas in March 2012 where LawMate USA will be unveiling new products that will be released in the coming year. We don't want to let the cat out of the bag, but let me just tell you there are some exciting products on the horizon! Have a look around and feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.