Video Surveillance Laws

video surveillance laws

Do you have a right to privacy from video cameras in a public place?

Video surveillance laws vary from state to state. There are no Federal laws that prohibit hidden video surveillance also known as Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) in public or in the workplace. Most states do not prohibit it either. Only California, New York, and Rhode Island prohibit hidden video cameras in places where people expect complete privacy. These places include locker rooms, bathrooms and other places where people undress. Of the remaining states, only Connecticut and Delaware require businesses to notify employees and customers of video cameras in bathrooms and changing rooms. When a public notice advising that video camera are being used is posted in a business, all rights to privacy are relinquished.

Most people readily accept video surveillance of public places because it’s proven to reduce crime. People are generally in favor of it in elevators, parking garages, tunnels, stairwells and other public places. Because they are somewhat hidden these are places where crimes may be likely. Surveillance video is often undeniable evidence when used to prove guilt in a court of law.


Video Surveillance Laws

One federal law that comes closest to dealing with this issue is the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights and guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. It also requires any search warrants to be sanctioned by the court which must decide there is probable cause of a crime.

But according to Angelo Pompano of the New Haven Teachers Institute, a division of Yale University, “The United States Supreme Court has decided in a long line of cases, most notably in Katz v. United States 389 U.S. 347, 88 S.CT.507 (1967), that there is no expectation of privacy in a public place.”

In another Supreme Court case, Justice Potter Stewart wrote for the majority, “The Fourth Amendment protects people, not places.” So what a person knowingly exposes to the public is not a subject to Fourth Amendment protection. But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.

While the right of privacy from unauthorized videotaping is not covered by the Constitution, states can pass their own laws on the issue. Florida, for instance, now has a law which attaches criminal penalties for secretly videotaping people where they have an expectation of privacy such as in a changing room or bathroom. However, it does not protect people in public places like a beach.

Home surveillance is easier than ever these days. You can set up home surveillance system that you can monitor from your cellphone. In fact, this could be a great business. Set up covert cameras in a home and link them to a cell phone. Here’s one system you might consider.

Video surveillance laws continue to evolve in this relatively new area. Video surveillance in the U.S. is growing partly in response to 9/11. But it is not nearly as pervasive in the U.S. as in the UK. There are reportedly more cameras per person in the UK than in any other country in the world.


Keep Reading...

Happy Birthday to the Man Who Invented Television

Philo Taylor Farnsworth (August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) was an American inventor and television pioneer. Today he would have been 109 years old. To read about the man who invented television and how he did it, click here.

Read More
Ultra Zoom 150 - 600

Ultra-Telephoto Zoom Lens From Tamron

The new Ultra Zoom from Tamron has a focal length of 150 to 600, f5 to f6.3.

Read More
Crash This Drone

Go Ahead Try and Crash This Drone

The new DJI Phantom 4 claims to have a crash avoidance system. And for $1400 you would think it should. Well, some crazy guys over at TechSmartt needed to test that claim. Can they crash this drone? Fortunately they made a video to document their attempts. And besides their attempts to crash this drone, the […]

Read More
End of Green Screen

New Camera Will Mean the End of Green Screen

The Lytro Cinema camera captures all the rays of light within a scene. This may not sound unusual, but no other camera can do this. This provides enormous power to the creative process. Every pixel is captured with color properties, directional properties, and its exact placement in space. This creates video in a 3-D space […]

Read More


4 thoughts on “Video Surveillance Laws

  1. Hal Post author

    You will need to research the laws in your state. This varies by state. Do some Google searches.

    Reply
  2. Janice

    Does a person have a reasonable expectation of privacy inside their garage with the garage door open where they are viewable from the street or neighbors house?

    Reply
  3. Tao4mind

    If you suffer loss when surveillance is used to intimidate, extort, blackmail, it’s a felony crime. One example is these windshield mounted dash cameras used by corporations in vans to record drivers for disciplinary reasons and termination of jobs. Most states find any obstruction of the windshield a safety issue but laws are ignored because corporations have teams of lawyers who feel peonage slaves have no rights to privacy and they use these audio and video surveillances to intimidate and blackmail employees. The USA is becoming more like North Korea with forced compliance and loss of civil rights.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Forbes Magazine calls VideoUniversity one of the best business-to-business sites for digital video production.
  • WINNER
    Videography Magazine's
    "Website of the Month" Award
  • WINNER
    PC Magazine Online "Best Desktop Video Site" Award
  • WINNER
    CyberFilm School's "FOUR STAR" Award