Technology has always progressed at a rate far faster than state laws can keep up with, which is why it may come as a surprise that certain things you’ve been doing are completely illegal, like turning right during a red light or not filing a home security permit with your city. More than that, it’s hard to know which laws are going to be enforced and which ones are in theory only. If you live in California and have a home security camera, you may want to learn more about the official rules around what you’re allowed to do and what’s off limits.
It sounds logical enough, you purchase a security camera to guard your private property, so you place the camera or cameras in and around your home. However, there are plenty of privacy laws that undermine this very initiative, and unless you’re a legal eagle or someone who just really loves to read the fine print, you’re probably unaware of them. Let’s dig in deeper. Regarding California’s home security camera laws, if you film another person without their knowledge or consent, you are illegally intruding upon another party with the help of your private camera. So, what exactly does that mean? What constitutes an intrusion and how can you avoid it? Well, like anything in life, it’s not all black and white, but there are a few things that can keep you on the right side of the law.
Cameras have advanced to the point where they can capture an impressive amount of information, both via visual and audio context. While most people in or outside your home are probably just talking about curtain arrangements or whose kids made varsity, you could technically stumble upon something that’s far more scandalous. And some people might want to exploit the details they hear for their own gain, which really isn’t something that state law wants to get caught up in. People do have the right to a reasonable amount of privacy.
The laws in California are quite clear when it comes to taking video of people in private areas. It may seem like a fairly obvious tip to let you know that you’re not allowed to put video cameras in bedrooms or bathrooms, but this rule is surprisingly not always followed by those with security cameras. The bottom line is that you need to inform people the camera is rolling. As long as you’re upfront about it and you’re not putting the cameras in a place that would violate privacy rules, then you should be ok.
To recap, let’s look at a few dos and don’ts:
Don’t put cameras in any reasonable place where a person would expect privacy
Do put cameras where people can see them
Don’t assume everyone you see is a criminal
Do keep a reasonable eye on your security cameras for any suspicious behavior
Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.
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