Home Security Cameras 101: the Audio Element
Before buying a security camera, ask yourself:
- Where do you intend on placing it?
- How well-hidden can/will the unit be?
- Are you familiar with laws pertaining to surveillance of people without them knowing about it and the associated audio recordings?
Laws vary from state to state regarding the audio element of a surveillance camera, but on a federal level, the requirement is that one person needs to be aware of the recording. Because this is the federal law, it makes it impossible for any state to allow zero people being aware.
So what this means is that it’s illegal to audio record in the form of eavesdropping. It’s prohibited, for instance, to secretly record a conversation that two people, without them being aware, are having across the room at a coffee house that you’re all in.
However, that federal rule that one person needs to be aware of the recording means that you can get away with “secretly” recording those two people—as long as you’re part of their conversation, sitting right with them. So if those two people learn you recorded them, they can gripe all they want, but you’re protected by federal law since you sat and talked with them.
The law for audio recording isn’t the same as for visual, in which the latter is allowable for publically seen environments. This is where “Dual Consent” comes into play for ANY audio recording. Some states require both parties need to consent to audio recording in order for the recording to commence.
These rules apply to phone conversations as well as cameras, which is why you often get an alert that your customer service call “may be recorded for training purposes.”
- If one of those two people is informed you’re recording them, then all is well, though once at least one of them knows this, it’s sure to influence the conversation (unless it’s dual consent state).
- What seems to be a contradiction of that aforementioned federal rule is that you CAN secretly record those two people—provided that you don’t intend to use the recording for any illegal purposes (unless it’s dual consent state).
- So it looks as though you can secretly record a conversation between your wife and the man she’s cheating on you with, then present it to her later as evidence you caught her. Nothing illegal about that (unless it’s dual consent state).
- But if you covertly record your boss conversing with his secret mistress, then threaten you’ll give the recording to his wife unless he gives you a $1,000 bonus, then that’s illegal.
- This is NOT legal advice. Consult your attorney and local laws.