Security Camera Laws in the United States

Are you ready to learn some new and amazing things that you did not know about security camera laws? This article will discuss four different facts you probably didn’t know about security cameras and the laws that regulate their use in the United States. We’ll also discuss various places throughout the country with their own laws. This includes municipalities such as cities and towns and also includes counties and parishes. States also have their own laws regarding security cameras individually state-by-state.

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    Importance of Jurisdiction

    Always check the following jurisdictions:

    • Local or municipal
    • County or parish
    • State
    • Federal

    If you have questions about specific security installation issues in your state, consult with Protect America.

    “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”
    Gabriel García Márquez, Gabriel García Márquez: a Life

    A small white indoor security camera is on a dark bookshelf in front of colorful books.

    General U.S. Laws Regarding Video Surveillance

    It’s generally okay to record video in public as long as there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy. A reasonable expectation of privacy are places that are assumed to be private. This includes bathrooms, changing rooms, shower areas, locker rooms, hotel rooms and bedrooms. You can generally conduct security and surveillance measures using video recording cameras at any home or business, even in public as long as you don’t violate those reasonable expectations.

    The other thing to also keep in mind when you are considering general rules of thumb is that audio recording is not the same as video recording in the eyes of the law. Various states have their own specific laws regarding both audio and video surveillance, privacy and the like. It is recommended that prior to any installation or plans, you get familiar with local, state, county and federal laws regarding home security cameras.
    The following may surprise you, but these three caveats generally apply across the board in the United States.

    Audio vs Video: Not the Same Legally Speaking

    The laws for using hidden video recording devices is not the same as for recording video and you obviously are not allowed to use hidden recordings for the express purpose of blackmail. Specific jurisdictions may have different rules regarding the specific use of audio recordings as they relate to privacy and other concerns in those jurisdictions, according to at least one source online.


    You Can Usually Legally Use Hidden Home Video Surveillance Cameras

    Generally, you can use hidden surveillance cameras to record video without a person’s consent. This includes security cameras at your house. Many homeowners decide to get “nanny cams” to see what is happening in their homes while they’re working or traveling. Other homeowners get exterior hidden cameras that are either mounted within another decoy item so people don’t know they’re present. You can also keep these cameras in some other place that is hard to notice. You can get interior and exterior security cameras installed by a professional and monitored for your safety and peace of mind.

    Again, you want to make sure that you are not putting hidden cameras where someone would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes bedrooms, bathrooms and other private use areas of the home. This is a moral and ethical issue as much a legal issue.

    Laws for Home Security Cameras: Where Can I Point My Cameras?

    You might think because your security cameras are outside and in a visible location that you can point them anywhere. In this case, anywhere would be your neighbor’s house. And by neighbor, we mean the family next door that your certain has been kicking over your trash cans each week. So you think installing outdoor security cameras to monitor traffic will give you all the proof you need.

    Before you start installing, we recommend you slow your roll. There are laws for home security cameras that can penalize you for where you place your cameras.

    In the case of spying on your neighbors with a security camera, it’s best to avoid doing so altogether. That is unless you install the camera in a wide area such as by your driveway or garage. If these cameras capture your neighbor’s front door or lawn, you aren’t subject to charges because there is no expectation of privacy outdoors.

    You can’t, however, point your security cameras at your neighbor’s house where there is an expectation of privacy. This includes a bedroom or bathroom.

    Business Security and Surveillance Treated with Laws Regarding Public Spaces

    Businesses need to protect their investments and their personnel. They can increase on-premise safety and security with professionally monitored security systems. Businesses are not generally afforded the same type of legal leeway as homeowners and members of the general public because they generally consist of public spaces or shared spaces, where there are different reasonable expectations of privacy.

    Most of the time, a business will need to make employees aware of a security policy and the use of recording devices. This is not always the case, but generally it is protocol. The same is especially true for surveillance of customers, clients, public, etc. Businesses usually need to post a notice letting patrons know that the premises are under video recording surveillance. Companies often show would-be burglars and other threats that they are protecting the business and they leave their sign on premise with their logo.

    A white outdoor security camera is to the right of a brown door with a silver sign that reads 'welcome' on the front.

    Find The Right Security Cameras For Your Home With Protect America

    Planning to monitor your home for extra surveillance is a wise decision.

    It’s also a very big decision and should be met with the right planning and insight from knowledgeable resources with expertise. That’s where Protect America can help. Our team of security experts can help you find the right surveillance equipment for your home and will ask you the right questions to understand your family’s needs. For complete interior or exterior protection, use indoor and outdoor cameras to protect your home. Each of our security packages include 24/7 professionally monitored systems that are ready to keep you and your loved ones protected at all hours of the day. We’re a company that doesn’t believe you should have to pay for the equipment you don’t want. So we offer customizable packages you can tailor to your family’s needs.

    Interested in monitored home security? Get a free quote from Protect America.