When I first saw a security camera in our neighborhood, I wondered if it can do more than just recording videos – like getting hold of the audio around it. After all, recording audio can be useful if you say you are a store owner, but is that going to be legal?
That’s why I decided to research online about it, and here is what I found.
If you consider adding an audio function to your home security system or buying a security camera consisting of an audio component, you must first go through the privacy laws of your country.
Suppose you plan on inviting guests to your home, and you have a Wi-Fi security system installed all over your place that records everything they do and say, you might either be breaking the law of consent and their privacy or you are merely being rude by not informing them about the cameras.
The Three Primary Concerns of the legality of Audio Security Systems
- It is illegal to record audio in any security cameras for business and surveillance, depending on the place and without the particular person’s consent of their privacy.
- The audio recording may heavily rely on laws concerning consent and confidentiality.
- It is illegal to record audio with a Wi-Fi security camera as you will be considered a cyber-criminal.
What steps should you take before installing a security system or a Wi-Fi security camera that records audio?
If you want to install a Wi-Fi security camera at home for the safety of your family, it will not be against any law or violation of anybody’s privacy.
Always consult a lawyer before installing an audio functioning security camera at your office, even if it is your cabin.
Things you must know regarding the installation of a security system
Since laws vary from state to state, audio recording through cameras could be legal at places depending on the situation. Although, due to the wiretapping law, audio recording without anybody’s consent is illegal.
For a businessperson, by asking the employer to inform the employees about audiotaping, the interview session is entirely legal, but it also requires the third party’s consent.
Public places demand the installation of a battery powered wifi camera for the safety of the people. This public, as well as private (at home) sites, exclude restrooms and bedrooms. However, audio recording cameras at public places are strictly restricted and illegal, again, depending on which state the laws apply because even at such sites, people share private conversations.
Cameras that indicate signs about the audio being recorded can be considered as consent. This makes people aware that they cannot make any of their private conversations there, and it also avoids any violation, also known as dual consent.
There is always an option of disabling audio recording if your camera already has the audio recording function. So if you have guests at home, to not be rude or infringing on their privacy, you can always use the option of disabling voice taping. If you are at your workplace, you could do the same.
Almost all IP camera comes with an inbuilt microphone that is useful for keeping on your baby or your pet when you are away from home. When buying, consultation is the best thing to do instead of being unaware of its components and falling into trouble unnecessarily. It is the reason why many surveillance cameras lack audio.
Ken Kirschenbaum, an alarm industry counsel, says that it is essential to take a person’s consent in writing. Let’s say you have put up a sign to let somebody know about taping the audio. Still, later on, if the specific person denies it and accuses you of violating their human rights and going against their consent, you are left with no proof that you had informed them about getting their permission. Therefore a written consent plays a vital role.
Related Topic: Can Employers Record Audio with a Surveillance Camera?
Law enforcement has all the rights to ask for footage from you if you have a Wi-Fi security camera, and they suspect something unusual going on at your home. Since Wi-Fi recordings are saved on Cloud, the officials can directly go to the company and ask for it. So it is always advisable to install such a camera under legal officers or an attorney.
Always use strong passwords to protect your Wi-Fi so that your video and audio tapes are not hacked and misused. Also, take other necessary security precautions.
Are You Recording Your Employers?
There is another exciting aspect to this that I found – and it’s something you would need to know if you are working at a place that uses security cameras.
When cameras are used to video and audio tape employees by employers, there should always be a legitimate business reason. State laws also determine the extent to which the legitimacy of tapping is allowed, especially with the federal wiretapping laws. However, such cameras are only used for protection to make the business safer and productive.
Federal laws relating to audio recording apply throughout the world. Even some local states and areas have strict requirements. You must know all the rules to ensure protection and safety from any criminal act on your part before installing a security camera that has tapping of both video and audio.
Most states do not allow audio recording at public stores also. Again, an indication or a sign at such a public place is permitted and is legal. States make laws of different types, single party consent – where at least one member of the conversation needs to consent – and all-party consent – all the members of the discussion, need to give their permission.
Laws concerning audio recordings are not to scare you away and refrain from doing it. As long as it is legal and not infringing upon anybody’s privacy, it is acceptable because they are mainly for one’s protection.