Keeping your privacy as a New York resident is already difficult enough. The city is overpopulated and buildings are tightknit. Nosy neighbors can be a huge issue and having your neighbor install a security camera when your home is only ten feet away is rather concerning for some residents. Outdoor security cameras have become more accessible and easier to install. Companies like Nest have even made outdoor security cameras with 4K quality sensors.
New York just made backyard privacy easier for their citizens.
N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Backyard Surveillance Bill this past Wednesday allowing residents to sue their neighbors for invasion of privacy, explicitly restricting any recordings of recreational activities in a nearby backyard without permission. If you feel uncomfortable with the fact your neighbor has a 4K security camera pointing in your direction, you are at freedom to sue them. Before this law, there was no law that could dictate your privacy outdoors.
The origins of the Backyard Surveillance Bill
This piece of legislation was sponsored by state senator Cathy Young, R-Cattaraugus County and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, D-Queens. In 2003, they had signed a law that made it illegal to record someone without consent in an intimate setting, like a bedroom or bathroom.
In 2011, the Young-Braunstein bill was created in response to a case in Chautauqua County where a convicted sex offender installed security cameras outside his home. The security camera was facing towards his neighbors backyard that happened to be a family, which included an 11-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl. At that time, there was nothing that could be done to overturn this. However, with the Backyard Surveillance Bill signed into the legislation, the sponsors believe that this is a ‘good first step’ to protecting people’s privacy.
What can the Backyard Surveillance Bill do for you?
First, if your neighbor does have an outdoor security camera, it’s important to communicate that you want it to be removed due to lack of privacy. If they do not respect your decision, as a N.Y. resident, you are able to pursue litigation against your neighbor.
Homeowners and renters will be able to sue under this law. This new litigation will be effective starting September 15. Law enforcement officials, however, are exempt from this new law. If you feel the need to sue your neighbor for violating this, you can file an injunction with the court to have the camera removed. This bill will allow families to live peacefully even outside their homes. Parents can feel safe knowing that there’s one less solution for their neighbors to be ‘peeping toms.’