I have a customer with a residential DVR camera system that we installed. Two cameras are outside looking at the street toward the neighbor across the street. That neighbor is suing him for doing surveillance of her house and property, since it is in the field of view of his cameras. Is it legal in California to have cameras that view and record a neighbor's house? Does she have a reasonable expectation of privacy on her property in a typical residential neighborhood?
The same customer would like us to install outdoor microphones in front of his house and record audio too. Is that legal in California?
Thank you for any legal wisdom on these issues.
Superior Alarms, Inc.
3576 Jacobs Avenue
CCTV questions can usually be answered by simply stating that the right and expectation of privacy cannot be violated. You should know and comply with statutes in the jurisdictions you are working in. Audio and video statutes are on my web site listed state by state, at http://www.kirschenbaumesq.com/avstatutes.htm The web site probably needs updating so use it as a starting point only.
Here is excerpt from a California statute that I think applies here:
Cal Pen Code § 647 (2007)
§ 647. Disorderly conduct; Restrictions on probation
Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:
(k)(1) Any person who looks through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, or camcorder, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside. This subdivision shall not apply to those areas of a private business used to count currency or other negotiable instruments.
(2) Any person who uses a concealed camcorder, motion picture camera, or photographic camera of any type, to secretly videotape, film, photograph, or record by electronic means, another, identifiable person under or through the clothing being worn by that other person, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person, with the intent to arouse, appeal to, or gratify the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person and invade the privacy of that other person, under circumstances in which the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
(3)(A) Any person who uses a concealed camcorder, motion picture camera, or photographic camera of any type, to secretly videotape, film, photograph, or record by electronic means, another, identifiable person who may be in a state of full or partial undress, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person, in the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which that other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of that other person.
Assuming the above is the only statute that applies to video, your subscriber can keep the CCTV as long as it's not viewing inside the neighbors house. Let's see if some of the CA lawyers who read these emails have a better answer.
As far as the audio, California is an "all party" state, which means that all parties to a conversation must consent to recording or listening. The neighbor obviously won't, so your subscriber cannot install audio outside the house where neighbors could be picked up. Here is the link to my web site for the California audio statute: http://www.kirschenbaumesq.com/vid-california1.htm
When considering audio, all states are either one party or all parties. Know the law in your jurisdiction. I haven't seen statutes that deal with audio systems that pick up intruders in buildings confirming illegal or unauthorized entry. Those systems, which have been available for many years, are undoubtedly permitted because the intruders have no right to any privacy.
Audio and video systems are becoming more common in residential and commercial premises. Viewing and storage is available locally, on the internet and at central station. Subscribers are asking for installations in all types of situations, some of which make the security installer uncomfortable because the lawfullness of the intended use is questionable. Contractually we can deal with this by including language in the contract and in the Disclaimer Notice that equipment will be installed only in lawful manner and places, and should the subsciber move equipment or use it in unintended ways, the security installer will not be responsible. That might work for contractual exposure, but some states may make it unlawfully to install equipment, not just use it. In those situations you need to be very careful to install only in a lawfull manner.