The information provided below is current at the time of this posting. The following is not to be used as legal advice. State and local laws may change or be periodically updated. It is your responsibility to educate yourself about the current status of local laws governing the use of video and audio surveillance equipment. If you know of a change or see an error, please contact us. If you have specific questions about the use of audio or video surveillance equipment in your area please contact your local law enforcement agency or an attorney that is educated in your local statutes. States not listed have no specific laws at the time of this writing.
In general, it’s illegal to obtain video surveillance of someone with malicious purposes. It is also illegal to take video surveillance of an individual in a place of “expected privacy”, where the surveillance will violate specific privacy laws. These “expected privacy” or “private places” may include:
Use of Hidden Cameras in Your Home or Residence
In general, you are entitled to install a hidden surveillance camera in your home for purposes of safety or home security. The footage captured may be able to be used in court when prosecuting an individual caught breaking the law within your home. However, some states do prohibit the use of hidden surveillance cameras that also capture audio. This means that a surveillance tape with audio may not be able to be used in a court prosecution. States that don’t allow you to capture audio without the person’s express consent include:
Hidden Cameras in Businesses
Many businesses use video surveillance systems (either hidden or within view) in order to promote the security of their business. These cameras can help catch thieves or shoplifters within a business, and can also allow the company’s security to identify any dangerous or illegal activity, and it is legal.
Audio & the Law
Audio Recording features are built into all the systems we offer. Recording both video and audio can be a very effective tool for security and legal surveillance purposes. However there are liabilities you may assume if you use these features incorrectly. Ultimately it is your responsibility to make sure your use of such equipment abides by the local laws.
The recording of covert or hidden audio without consent of at least one party is almost always illegal. Nearly all audio recording without consent of one or all parties is unlawful. Recording audio is very different from video, and there are definite federal and state laws prohibiting surreptitious recording and monitoring of audio interactions. These laws are taken extremely seriously by authorities and failure to adhere to them could result in serious consequences. There are two types of defined recording situations for audio recording. They are usually identified as “One Party Consent” and “Two Party Consent”.
• “One Party Consent” means that only the person doing the recording has to give consent and does not have to notify the other party or parties that the conversation is being recorded.
• “Two Party Consent” means the person recording the conversation must notify all of the other parties that the recording is taking place and they must consent to the recording.
Federal Audio Recording Laws The federal wiretapping statute, also known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, permits phone calls (traditional, cellular and cordless) and other electronic communication to be recorded with the consent of at least one party, or “one party consent”, to the conversation. This means that should you be among the people taking part in the conversation, it may be recorded because one person has consented to the recording.
States with “One Party Consent” for Audio Recording
• Alabama • Minnesota • Virginia
• Alaska • Nebraska • West Virginia
• Arizona • New Jersey • Wisconsin
• Arkansas • New Mexico • Wyoming
• Colorado • New York
• District of Columbia • North Carolina
• Georgia • North Dakota
• Idaho • Oklahoma
• Indiana • Oregon
• Iowa • Ohio
• Kentucky • Rhode Island
• Louisiana • South Carolina
• Maine • South Dakota
• Minnesota • Tennessee
• Mississippi • Texas
• Missouri • Vermont
States with “Two Party Consent” for Audio Recording
• New Hampshire
Since many US states have a “gray area” in regard to hidden camera surveillance, the concept of “intent” has often been brought into the legal spotlight. Should you be taking hidden video surveillance of your nanny to ensure that she is keeping your children safe; this is acceptable intent. However, if you are taking video surveillance of visitors to your home in order to blackmail, this can be considered malicious intent. It’s also illegal.