Is It Legal to Record Audio on Home Security Cameras?

You have a security camera in your home and want to know if is it legal to record audio using home security cameras. If so, look no further! In this blog post, I’ll share the legalities of recording audio with home security cameras and how it can help you protect your property.

Legal Requirements for Home Security Cameras

In general, the law allows you to install cameras on your property. But you should respect the privacy of other people. So you should avoid video/audio recording in places like bathrooms, changing rooms, and private bedrooms.

While there are no specific laws related to using cameras for residential home security. But has still regulations to be aware of. Most state laws recommend installing security camera systems outside the building.

Before installing you must acquire written approval from a public safety office if certain cameras or auto-dialing devices are included in the system.

Moreover, Virginia laws allow installing home video surveillance, but they do not permit to add audio recording system.

Homeowners can also rest assured that they are not legally liable for a lack of security camera claims.  They must take reasonable steps to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.

What to Consider When Recording Audio on Home Security Cameras

  • You must consider your state’s privacy laws before recording audio using a home security camera.
  • Ensure you have equipment for recording audio on your home camera. Built-in microphones are the easiest to use.
  • You should ensure it is illegal to record workers’ conversations without them knowing.
  • CCTV cameras are able to record audio and video images.
  • Consider using a two-way audio feature whenever the camera detects motion or when the doorbell is pressed.

Federal & State Laws Regarding Audio Surveillance

At the federal or national level, 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(d) allows for the audio recording of private conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties involved. Meaning you or another consenting adult are the parties in the audio being recorded, you’re free and clear to keep those audio-equipped cameras rolling.

On a state level, 15 states have specific laws around security cameras that may require consent when recording individuals in private spaces.

Other states apply the “reasonable expectation of privacy” principle and require consent to use hidden camera surveillance. You have to consider the privacy standards of any guests or visitors when placing your cameras.

For audio recordings, it is legal at both the federal and state level to record anything with an adequately displayed home security camera or recording device (i.e., not hidden).

However, there are some legal oddities and critical ways to prevent your security camera installation from becoming a legal liability. It is wise to consider the potential ramifications of recording your guests or hiring help without their consent when installing hidden cameras.

There are two types of law regarding the audio recording matter through a CCTV camera.

  • One-party consent
  • Two-party consent
CCTV camera in market

Most states have privacy laws that prohibit CCTV cameras from recording audio without taking the permission of at least one party engaged in the conversation.

Other states have Two-party consent laws, which means both of the party engaged in a conversation should be aware of the matter that the CCTV is recording their conversation.

There are 12 states in the USA that require Two-party consent. They are:

  • Washington
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Pennsylvania
  • California
  • Illinois

The rest of the US is a one-party consent state, allowing recording if one of the participants agrees. To be safe from the law, you shouldn’t record audio if you cannot be present, whether in person or by using a two-way audio system.

Whether installing a hidden camera or one that sits in plain sight, you should always double-check your state’s security camera laws.

Is It Legal to Record Audio on Security Cameras in California and New York

Yes! It is legal to record audio on security cameras in California and New York. But audio recording on security cameras is subject to two-party consent laws.

In California, Penal Code 632 makes it illegal to monitor or record confidential communication without the consent of all parties involved. So if you are recording for security purposes, it is allowed.

In New York, an audio surveillance system might not be legal depending on the state, but Wi-Fi recording would be a great alternative. Although, you do not require any specific permission to record video.

Your security cameras view and record a neighbor’s house in California just as long as you are abiding by their principal recording law (Cal. Penal Code § 632). So it is a two-party consent state. So go ahead and get those security cameras up and running with confidence!

What Kind of Liability Can I Face If I Record Someone Without Their Knowledge or Consent?

Recording or intercepting in-person or phone conversations without the consent of at least one party can lead to fines and/or imprisonment, even potential civil liability.

If you are caught recording someone without their knowledge, you may face 5 years in jail or prison or a $500 fine.

Additionally, if the person you recorded decides to sue, you may be facing serious civil liability. This may include actual and punitive damages, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Additionally, if law enforcement requests recordings from public telephones, rental or sale of harmful matter (such as adult videos), there are specific legal requirements that must be followed in order to comply with the law.

Failing to comply could result in fines and/or imprisonment, as well as potential civil liability.

Conclusion

If you plan to record conversations, contact an attorney first. Unless you have extensive knowledge of recording laws, you shouldn’t try to make any activity like this.

I hope this article has helped answer your questions about audio recording on home security cameras. Always ensure, stay informed, and abide by the laws of your jurisdiction when recording video or audio on any device.

Citation:

  1. Cornell. (2021). 18 U.S. Code § 2511 – Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited.
    law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2511
  2. Two party consent states
    https://recordinglaw.com/party-two-party-consent-states/

[Updated by Palash Talukder]

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