When it comes to security, we often think of things we can add to our homes to protect ourselves. Things like security cameras and alarm systems can help bring peace of mind, but first and foremost, your home should be structurally sound and durable. Namely, as a main point of entry, our front doors should possess the ability to withstand various weather conditions and considerable force. Learn more about the different types of doors and which type best suits your needs.
Wood doors are often made of cherry, pine, maple, or fir and are known for their ability to endure different environmental elements. Their visual appeal can be tailored to your liking thanks to specialized craftsmanship and an assortment of wood stains. And depending on how they are made, these doors can provide varying levels of protection. Solid wood doors are made up of several different pieces of wood while solid core doors are made of one solid slab of wood. While solid wood doors are affordable, they lack the strength and heft of solid core doors. Solid core doors are dense and heavy and can provide a superior degree of defense against forced entry. The downside for wooden doors is that they will start to warp over time.
Steel doors are arguably the most secure type of doors as they offer the greatest protection against intruders. However, dents, scratches, and chipping paint is quite common, and if these issues are not dealt with in a timely fashion, the structural integrity of the door may be compromised. When it comes to costs, they can be less expensive than fiberglass and solid core doors.
Fiberglass doors are growing increasingly popular with homeowners thanks to their affordable cost, low maintenance, and benefits. Of the others, fiberglass doors are the most durable, energy efficient, and weather resistant. Since they do not warp, dent, or rust, they offer the best benefits of wood and steel doors without the major drawbacks.
Additional security measures for your front door include high-quality, high-grade, deadbolt locks along with door jamb reinforcement. Door sensors are a smart investment as well. They can alert you when a door opens when you’re home, or trigger an alarm while you’re away.
Find the best prices on quality security cameras and CCTV surveillance systems at SecurityCamExpert.com. To learn more about our products and installation services, please call 888-203-6294.
Concerns about the security of your home and loved ones can be especially high during the holidays. With increased risk of thefts and burglaries, it is important to employ the proper security methods to put your mind at ease. Here are a few ways you can secure your home and protect your assets.
By completing this assessment, you can recognize any threats that may not be detected by even the best alarm system. Some things to consider include who may have access to your home, how prepared you are for a natural disaster or civil emergency, and whether there is any online or public record information that could possibly compromise your security.
A home security system, complete with a backup power source, is a crucial component to protect your property. If you own any vacation homes, be sure to secure and monitor those as well.
If a security system came with your home, you may need to reevaluate how it suits your needs. If needed, invest in upgrades or a whole new system. Assess your risk points and go from there, but be sure that it is user-friendly as well, so that your family members can access and easily operate it.
Annual follow-ups with your security provider are recommended. Update contacts, information and make any adjustments as necessary.
You should be prepared for a variety of emergency situations. While most commonly associated with natural disasters, emergency plans can also be implemented for other situations, such as home invasion, storm evacuations, and other crises.
In case of emergency, be sure to have secure locks and the proper emergency supplies. In the event of your home security being compromised, you should have a rapid response plan. Prepare a “grab-and-go” packed with essentials, including communication tools and meeting information.
Aside from having these plans in place, you will want to rehearse with all family members so that they know and understand their role in keeping everyone safe. Try to practice these at least once a year so that the appropriate steps stay fresh in their minds.
Your biggest threat could be someone you know, who knows your residence and schedule. These people can include domestic staff such as housekeepers or child care providers. Be sure to follow best practices before hiring home employees.
For prospective domestic employees, be sure to do a professional background check – do not rely on a simple Google search. Ask trusted friends or an attorney to recommend a private investigator or third-party service that can pull up critical information using the candidate’s name and date of birth. If you are using a placement agency, be sure their background checks are comprehensive and legitimate.
When hiring, include a pre-employment application which authorizes criminal and credit checks, and always check references and conduct in-person interviews with potential candidates.
Firm employment agreements are important and can protect your security during (and after) a domestic employee’s service. Work with an attorney to draft a secure contract that encompasses, and include the following:
While there’s no obligation, be prepared to provide severance pay upon departure of a terminated employee. Thoughtful treatment at termination can go a long way toward preventing a disgruntled former employee from retribution.
Restrict Access To Bank Accounts
Despite the fact that most domestic employees often need money for home-related expenses, you should never give an employee your personal ATM car or password. Use a separate account for household expenses and designate the employee as an authorized cardholder, or consider using prepaid debit cards, which can put a limit to the amount spent. Both options allow limited access to your personal accounts while allowing you to track spending.
Remember that anyone who has access to your property can present a security risk. This includes any building contractors, landscapers, electricians, and the like. Before proceeding with any services, speak with the principal of the company and find out if they are licensed and insured, whether they do background credit and criminal checks and periodic drug testing on employees, and ask for a roster of people who will be at the property on a regular basis. If any information seems questionable to you, look for services elsewhere.
Despite your efforts to keep your personal information private, there is information about you that is publicly available. One piece of information about you may seem harmless, but when it is combined with other public information, it can be used to gain insight about you (ex. income, properties) which may attract criminals. Luckily, there are ways you can control your public presence.
Responsible Online Behavior
Enlisting an online security consultant should be the first step. They will evaluate your public “footprint” by doing a thorough search of the Internet and present you with the results. From there, you can work together to assess and manage any and all threats. Ensure that the whole family is on board, especially children who are active on social media. Everyone should understand how to engage in responsible online behavior.
Public Institutions, Private Information
Beware of whom you share your information. Your information can still end up online through reputable third parties (ex. charities, schools, civic groups). These public entities often mean well, but most lack strict cyber security systems and protocols to keep your information secure.
If you are going to make a major donation or real estate purchase, use a trust account to protect your identity and any other sensitive information associated with it. Choose a trust name that is different from the family name and associate it with a nonresidential address such as a P.O. Box.
Commercial and public sites can reveal details about your home you would rather keep private. For example, your realtor’s website may still contain photos of your home long after the close of the sale, while other sites may list pricing history of your property. Most of these sites will remove your information per request. You may want to discuss these issues with your real estate agent as they may have more insight on how to keep your information private.
While it is not ideal to think about the possibilities of something going wrong, it is beneficial to be prepared. Aside for the aforementioned measures, what else do you do to ensure your security? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
To invest in quality CCTV surveillance cameras and security systems for your home, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 1-888-203-6294. Inquire about a free quote, site survey or our installation services.
Both convenient and easily accessible, online shopping has become a preferred method of shopping for most. The number of consumers who shop online only grows during the holiday season. The downside is that package thefts also tend to increase during the holidays. Protect your possessions with these smart delivery tips.
Require A Signature
Choose this option whenever it is available. If your package requires a signature and no one is home, the package cannot be left at your doorstep, thus, eliminating the risk of someone snatching your package.
Use Shipping Locations For Delivery
If you have a secondary mailbox at a shipping location, you can usually have your packages dropped off here for free. That way, your package will be waiting for you at a secure location.
Flaunt Your Home Security System
Install signs to make others aware that you have a security system. This poses an added challenge and will likely deter most thieves from targeting you. If someone does approach, you can enable push notifications and will have pertinent footage to capture the suspect.
Sign Up For Email Notifications
FedEx and UPS, along with other businesses including Amazon, send email notifications for tracking. This allows you to virtually monitor your package from shipment to delivery.
Deliver To Your Place Of Business
Before doing this, make sure that management approves. If they do, this will ensure that you are able to receive your package rather than leaving it at your front door all day.
Lastly, if you are shipping a package to a friend or relative, include a piece of paper with your address and the destination address inside the box. In case the shipping label is damaged or missing on the package, FedEx or UPS can open the package, find the address, and ship it.
When it comes to security, you want to deter intruders from targeting your property. Investing in advanced security and surveillance cameras with the latest technologies can be a smart approach, however, in order to be effective, they must be installed properly. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when installing a security camera system on your property.
Mistake #1 – Hiding Your Cameras
The presence of security cameras can deter bad behavior, so why would you hide them? Making them visible from the street, yet out of reach, is a good idea. Keeping the cameras out of reach is important to prevent any tampering or vandalism that could compromise their performance. Burglars are always on the hunt for an easy target, and homes or businesses with security cameras create an extra obstacle.
Mistake #2 – Camera Positioning
The important places to monitor are rather obvious, but you must also take intermittent lighting and weather conditions into consideration. Things like direct sunlight can wash out your recordings, while rain or snow can build up on the lens, and windy days can make branches and leaves a problem. All of these can interfere with your recordings and possibly make your footage useless.
The best way to avoid these issues is to employ proper housing to protect and shade your cameras. Keep an eye on your feed to ensure that various weather conditions are not interrupting your surveillance.
Furthermore, if you’re using IP cameras, it is crucial that each camera location has strong and consistent Wi-Fi signal. Weak or spotty connection will impede your camera system’s performance.
Mistake #3 – Cheap Systems
Unfortunately, not all security cameras are equal. While there are many inexpensive cameras and systems that may seem appealing (especially to your wallet), you will likely run into performance issues. When shopping for security cameras, be sure to pay attention to features and specifications. Look into user feedback and reviews to ensure you are making a sound investment.
Mistake #4 – Passwords
With anything security related, we can’t stress enough how important strong passwords are. And always, always, ALWAYS change the default password. If someone gains unauthorized access to your surveillance feed, they can study the layout of your system and your daily routines, mapping out the best time to attack.
If you have an internet-connected system, it likely offers remote monitoring, thus you need a password to access it. Again, change your default password as soon as possible, and choose a strong, complex, and long password that you can remember.
Mistake #5 – DIY Installation
While it may seem more practical to set things up on your own, it might be better to leave it to the professionals. You don’t want to risk ruining your equipment because you installed it improperly. Trustworthy companies usually offer warranties, and will come back to fix any issues should they arise.
For a great selection of quality security cameras & CCTV surveillance packages, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. For more information about our products and installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.
Staying connected to your home is a convenience in itself, but in the case of natural disasters and emergencies, it can be an invaluable tool. If you live in an area prone to extreme weather, you likely have an emergency plan in place. However, a connected home can provide new and safer options to manage the situation.
Regardless of whether it is your home, vacation property, or even the home of a loved one, here are some ways connected technology can benefit you in the face of an emergency and beyond.
Unfortunately, emergency evacuations mean abandoned homes and properties, which is ideal for looters. With connected security cameras, you can keep an eye on who might be entering your home, as well as monitor the possible damage occurring as a result of the natural disaster.
Installing water sensors can alert you of flood conditions and even slow leaks, which can cause significant damage over time if not detected early.
Aside from water sensors, carbon monoxide and gas detectors can save lives by alerting you when levels become dangerous.
Connected devices such as smart locks and garage doors often have motion detection sensors which notify you when someone enters or exits your home.
Remote Monitoring & Push Notifications
Because you can monitor from a safe distance, these are ideal in emergency situations. Push notifications provide up-to-date alerts which allow you to deal with situations in a timely fashion. Both enable you to monitor and understand what is going on without putting yourself in danger.
Affordable & Reliable Communication
Because these technologies seem so advanced, people often interpret this as complicated and expensive. However, this is not the case. There are various solutions on the market that offer relatively simple installation for cost-effective prices. Because the accessories and transmission processes have become more affordable over the years, connected technology is more accessible and easier to manage and maintain.
You can possibly get a discount on your homeowner’s insurance if you install smart, connected devices. Many insurance providers are now offering discounts for those with smart homes. Some providers even partner with connected technology manufacturers to offer more incentives for customers.
Furthermore, choosing smart devices for your home helps to relieve emergency personnel and law enforcement agencies. Instead of entering an area affected by a natural disaster, you can check in on your property remotely to stay out of harm’s way and avoid interrupting the ongoing work of emergency personnel.
Peace Of Mind
As a whole, connected devices can offer some peace of mind in stressful, dire times. While these devices can be extremely helpful in disaster areas, all homeowners can benefit from a connected home.
When you decide to install home security cameras, where you place your cameras and how you use your footage is important to consider. For maximum protection, it is recommended to monitor common areas as well as possible points of entrance. While home surveillance is not banned, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid breaking the law.
Home Surveillance Concerns
Within your home, you do have the right to record without informing others, but there are very large exceptions to this rule. First, any area where a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is assumed is off limits. For example, if your home security cameras are monitoring your front yard and possibly the sidewalk and street, your expectation of privacy in these areas is low. On the other hand, bathrooms and bedrooms, where you may be in a state of undress, have a high expectation of privacy, and, thus, are prohibited.
Second, if your cameras enable audio recording, you may want to brush up on wiretapping laws. While these vary slightly from state to state, federal statutes allow audio recording so long as one of the two parties consents. This basically means that you, as the recorder, may know and give consent without informing the other party. However, some states, including California, require dual consent, meaning both parties must be aware and agree to be recorded.
In regards to recording burglars, any trespassers forfeit any expectation of privacy in your home. You may record the person, submit the footage to police, and use your video in court.
For cameras that run non-stop and record audio, you will want to warn any person that is allowed access to your home that these cameras are there and running, otherwise you may run the risk of breaking wiretapping laws. These people include family members, guests/visitors, delivery persons or installers.
The Consent Conundrum
You may now be wondering how you can lawfully gain dual consent. Will verbal consent or a surveillance sticker in the window suffice, or should you have every guest fill out a consent form upon entering? Unfortunately, consent for audio recordings must be given in written form. It is a common misconception that window decals or yard signs are sufficient means to gain consent, as it is expected for visitors to see and recognize them.
However, in a home setting, there may be an exception to the rule. With home cameras, it boils down to what you do, or intend to do, with your recordings. If you don’t do anything with the recording, it is likely that no one will know or care – no harm, no foul.
If you do something with the recording, things change. For example, say a celebrity is a guest in your home and now you have footage of this celebrity hanging out in your home. While selling this footage to a gossip magazine for profit may seem enticing, you will be breaking the law. First, consent was never given from this celebrity. Second, you cannot use a recording for commercial gain without the subject’s consent.
In regards to wiretapping, a possible solution is to simply turn off audio recording if your devices permit. However, why turn off a service that you have paid for? While thieves are usually fairly quiet while they work, using audio recording for eavesdropping may be beneficial (but puts forth yet another ethical dilemma).
Uses For Recordings
Let’s say you record someone in your home plotting a crime, or admitting to committing a crime. Most states allow you to use the recording to prevent a crime or prove that one was committed.
However, if the recording does not involve a crime and you decide to post it on YouTube or a social media site, you could be engaging in illegal activity. Using a recording for exploitive or commercial purposes (as in the previous celebrity example) may be misappropriation if not all parties consent. As a reminder, laws vary from state to state so please look into your own state’s laws.
Also, even within your own home, recording with the intention of blackmail is illegal.
Law enforcement has the right to ask for your home surveillance if they suspect illegal activity, and a warrant will likely be necessary. However, since most recordings are stored in the cloud, they may be able to go straight to the provider and obtain the footage, bypassing your permission to access.
What Should You Do?
To err on the side of caution, be sure that everyone entering your home is aware that the cameras are there, and avoid placing them in areas where privacy is expected. If you wish to withhold the information, so long as you do not do anything with the footage, you should be fine.
However, there are other reasons to be careful with the privacy of your security cameras. While you may not have the intention to do bad things, hackers may be able to access your cameras and broadcast your feed. To protect yourself and your guests, it is advised to take reasonable security precautions (ex. strong passwords, maintain security Wi-Fi network), and take the ethical high road when using new technology.
Aside from keeping your home safe from intruders, security cameras can serve many different purposes. Here are some clever and smart ways you can utilize your surveillance system.
Security Cameras & Floodlights
While there are security cameras with night vision and infrared LED lights, sometimes clarity and resolution is compromised in these settings. If you’re monitoring outdoors, consider installing floodlights to keep your surroundings illuminated. Floodlights with built-in motion sensors can help you save energy and startle whoever may be lurking in the dark. Consider installing these near doors or windows, patios, and backyards.
Wireless Security Cameras
Going wireless allows you to monitor places in your home that are off limits to your children, and can even allow you to keep an eye on your pets while you’re away. So long as there is Wi-Fi connection nearby, they cameras should be able to operate.
If you’re already using security cameras within your home, there’s no need to invest in a separate baby monitor. You can use a security camera, or a web cam, to monitor your toddlers while they sleep. Depending on your equipment, you may also be able to speak and soothe your child through the camera.
Peace Of Mind
If you have teens, you can make sure that they arrived home safely after school and are on their best behavior. If you have elderly parents that live on their own, remote access to their home security camera can alert you when something is wrong. Some systems even allow two-way audio so you can communicate with your family without picking up the phone.
There are devices on the market now that integrate a security camera with your doorbell. That way, whether you’re home or not, you can see who is at your door and communicate with visitors. This can be helpful if you have received a package, but no one is home to accept it. You can ask the delivery person to set it aside in an inconspicuous area.
You never know what you’ll catch with your security cameras. Whether it is the cause of a strange noise or an unfamiliar, suspicious-looking car from your outdoor cameras, or simply the culprit who is always leaving the food out, you can get to the bottom of some mysteries.
As one of the first mainstream home security cameras, nanny cams can be rather helpful. Whether you are wary of your nanny or other visitors in your home, you can use nanny cams to put your mind at ease. These cameras are often hidden in ordinary objects such as clocks, smoke alarms, teddy bears, etc., making them hard to distinguish.
Lastly, your security cameras can be incorporated into your overall smart home system. IFTTT (If This Then That) service is a free service that allows different smart home devices to connect and “talk” to each other. Some examples of what you can program include having your lights turn on whenever motion is detected in that room, or only having your cameras record when you are not at home.
If you’re looking to invest in a quality security camera system, choose SecurityCamExpert.com! We carry a wide selection of surveillance cameras and equipment, plus we offer free site surveys and affordable installations and service. Call 1-888-203-6294 to learn more.
People often take vacations over the summer, which makes it no surprise that July and August are the months with most break-ins. If you’re going away for a little vacation, use these tips to help keep your home and property safe.
Think Like A Burglar
Take a look at your home and think about the ways you would try to break in. These spots should be reinforced with extra security. You may also want to consider concealing your valuables. If burglars can see something they want through a window, they may be more likely to target that home.
Take pictures of your home and your belongings before you leave. In case a burglar does target your house, the photos can help to document any damage and help you create an inventory log with estimated values of your items. Both of these can be especially helpful for insurance purposes.
These will need to be adjusted if you have a house sitter or pet sitter coming and going, but, in general, you should:
To avoid returning to damaged property, turn off and unplug electronics, such as TVs, computers, or other devices, that could be damaged in the event of power surges. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may want to consider turning off the water and gas as well.
If possible, get your neighbors involved. Choose a trusted neighbor or two and politely ask them if they can keep an eye on things while you’re away, and offer to do that same if they leave. You can have the post office hold your mail, or have your neighbors pick it up, as well as any ads or flyers left on your door. You may also ask them to mow your lawn, trim plants, and set out trash cans, even if they are empty. This will help to keep up the charade that someone is occupying the home. Lastly, consider giving your most trusted a neighbor a spare key in case of emergencies.
If you’re looking to upgrade or add a surveillance system to your home or business, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. We carry a vast selection of quality security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more at affordable prices. To schedule a free site survey or learn more about our installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.
Installing a surveillance system in your home or business can provide you with a sense of security. However, if you do not properly secure your system, cyber criminals can gain access to your video feeds.
Aside from an unnerving invasion of privacy, unauthorized access to your surveillance video can help criminals study the area, identify where important property is located, figure out traffic patterns, sabotage systems, deny access to feeds, and much more.
Because IP security camera systems connect to LAN networks, extra precautions are necessary to safeguard your system from attacks. Breaches are usually due to human error, negligence, and misconfigurations, and can often be prevented. The following are common vulnerabilities and ways to protect your surveillance system.
Default usernames and passwords are common with most IP based security cameras. They are used to set up your system and accounts for remote access. Too often, people fail to change these passwords, or choose simple passwords, making it easy for strangers to access feeds.
Be sure to set strong passwords, use good password management or user certificates in lieu of passwords. You may want to consider changing your password periodically as well.
Avoid enabling unused services as it can leave your system vulnerable to attacks. For example, cyber criminals could install malicious applications and scripts using file transfer protocol (FTP) or an app platform from an untrusted developer.
Minimize your risk by disabling any unused services and installing only trusted apps.
Sometimes organizations fail to define who has access to different aspects of the surveillance system, possibly leading to confusion and employees with unnecessary access. For example, it may be unclear as to who is responsible for reviewing security measures to ensure proper protocol is being followed.
For IT departments, it is recommended to only allow users access to the resources they need to perform their job.
Bugs and flaws in software codes can put your devices at risk. Luckily, you can do your part to prevent this.
Always keep your cameras, equipment, and software up-to-date with the latest firmware to ensure that bugs will not pose a threat. Vendors often post public common vulnerabilities and exposure reports which provide solutions for users.
Physical Installation Problems
Whether it is your cameras, wiring, or other infrastructure, poor installation can leave your system at risk.
Cameras should be installed out of reach to avoid any possible tampering or vandalism, but at a proper angle to view people and objects clearly.
Poor Physical Protection Of Equipment (Cabling, Servers, Gear)
If your cabling, server, or other surveillance equipment is not properly protected, your system is at risk for poor, intermittent performance. A small kink or damage to a cable can interfere with signal, causing disruption in your feed or even power failure.
Appropriate housing to protect your equipment from severe weather or extreme heat is available and is recommended for use if you are in an area susceptible to these conditions.
Routine maintenance is ever important to ensure that your system is and will continue to function properly.
A preventative maintenance program should include a checklist of issues to look for in order to avoid small issues that can turn into big problems (ex. damaged/loose cameras and equipment, exposed, loose, or damaged cabling, dirt/moisture on camera lenses). This will allow the owner to become accustomed to the system and more aware when something seems different or wrong (ex. possible signs of tampering).
Flaws In Standard Network Protocols
Most network surveillance systems use standard network protocols (ex. FTP, TCP/IP), however, weaknesses or flaws in these protocols can expose surveillance data to attacks.
For video streams sent over the network, the latest advanced encryption methods should be used.
Failure To Align Hardware/Software On The Network With IT Policy
If your hardware or software does not meet your IT organization’s network security policy, there will be security issues. For example, third-party software or apps are often poorly supported or lack security patches which make them vulnerable to security breaches. Thus, your IT department will not be happy.
Enforcing a strong IT policy is imperative for any business.
Security cameras are a great way to keep an eye on your property or business. You can use them to look after your loved ones, protect your inventory, or deter intruders all together. As appealing as security camera systems are, it is wise to know and understand your local surveillance laws.
Before you invest in your own security cameras, please review these general guidelines. Remember, these are not meant to apply to your specific situation. Instead, they are meant to give you a general idea of what is and is not allowed. If you have any further questions regarding filming restrictions and such, please contact a local attorney or research laws within your city and state.
Camera placement is important because you want to capture high traffic areas, such as entrances and back doors. If you direct your camera at an insignificant area, you will waste time and money while defeating the purpose of your security system.
Placement is also important because there are areas that are off limits, including restrooms, other people’s homes, dressing rooms and locker rooms. Basically anywhere that there is an expectation of privacy, or you are likely to be in a state of undress, is off limits.
If you are unsure whether or not you are violating someone’s right to privacy, err on the side of caution and always consult a lawyer.
If you own a retail business, you may worry that customers might be committing crimes in blind spots such as dressing rooms, locker rooms, or restrooms. While legally you cannot monitor these areas, you can monitor the entrances/exits. Be sure that when the door opens, your camera does not get any glimpse of what’s behind that door, otherwise you could get into trouble. If a person goes into a restroom or dressing room with some inventory, and then exits without it that is a suggestion of a crime.
Areas that are viewable to the public are generally legal to film. This is how Google is able to provide the 360-degree street view for Google Maps. However, it is ill-advised to point your security cameras at your neighbor’s home. Whatever situation that warranted your desire or need to film your neighbor’s home could become escalated. Whether you are the one filming or the one being filmed, you may want to first speak with your neighbor about camera placement.
With audio recording, Federal Law only requires one person to know about the recording taking place. State laws will provide different regulations. Remember that federal law creates a baseline for laws. That is, state laws cannot allow for any less than one informed party.
Audio is not allowed to be obtained through eavesdropping or remote recording. Because at least one of the parties must know of the recording, you are not permitted to record conversations you are not a part of since you do not count as one of the parties. Even if the conversation is taking place in a public area, the parties can still expect privacy which protects them from eavesdroppers. In the same vein, you cannot leave your unattended recorder somewhere and use the recordings as evidence.
The easiest way to get around audio recording rules is to make the party aware that they are being recorded. For example, often times when you call a customer service line, you will likely hear, “This call may be recorded…” Continuing the conversation after this notification is usually viewed as consent. Thus, once you have informed someone that a room is being monitored by audio surveillance, they have the choice to continue their conversation in that room or move the discussion to a different room.
You may also record a person so long as you don’t intend on using the recording for illegal acts. Because one party is aware of the recording, the act of recording is not illegal. However, if your recording contains private information that is covered by the common law privacy, you may get into some hot water. The private information could be things like medical history (ex. miscarriage, abortion) so be sure to understand what is and is not covered.
The Constitution & Surveillance
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from “…unreasonable searches and seizures…” and details the rights of privacy. While you may think that some public security cameras would count as unreasonable, the case of Delaware v. Prouse will tell you otherwise. In this case, the Supreme Court stated that “people are not shorn of all Fourth Amendment protection when they step from their homes onto the public sidewalks”.
As far as the First Amendment goes, there has not been any critique on a camera’s existence suppressing behavior. In fact, in the Laird v. Tatum case, the court found that government surveillance of anti-war protesters did not hinder their freedom of expression. This can help security camera owners when there are accusations of civil liberty violations.
The First Amendment also gives you the right to document civil servants as they are performing their civic duties. The recordings are simply viewed as a way of exercising your rights. Officers may ask you to stop recording and ask for the evidence, however, you do not have to submit to their requests unless they have a warrant for your property.
The only instance in which you may be violating the law is if you are interfering with an investigation. This is often used to remove reporters from a crime scene, but your personal security camera should not interfere with the investigation. In fact, your video surveillance may be of use for the investigation.
If you ever wondered why most security cameras do not have microphones, it is because, in some cases, you may need dual consent to record audio. Violating dual consent is a felony. Your best bet is to get consent to be taped before recording, and then again as the first order of business when the recording begins. Off tape and on record consent will cover your bases if you are sued for violating wiretap laws. And although it is deemed “dual consent”, you must get the express consent of everyone being recorded.
The following states may have variations on the law and should be further researched: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
The employer must have a legitimate reason for recording. The off limits areas include restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms. There may also be restrictions in the break room. Again, you cannot record any place in which a person should expect privacy. However, anywhere that an employee interacts with a customer can be monitored. For example, the sales floor is fair game, but a personal office may not be. You will need to use your best judgment or consult an attorney. Disclosing the use of surveillance equipment to your workers will cover your bases for any illegal wiretapping issues.
The biggest restriction for recording employees is in regards to unions. An employer may not record union activities such as meetings or even discussions about union business. And surveillance cannot be used to intimidate current or prospective members of the union.
Evidence for Trial
When you submit any type of recording to a court of law, the evidence is put on trial. The validity and handling of this evidence is then scrutinized. You, as the recorder, must prove that the evidence was in no way doctored. You must go through the steps of how the footage was obtained (ex. how the video was recorded, where the camera was located, the quality of the camera at different times of day, how it was stored, etc.), and verify the whereabouts of the evidence as it was transported to court. When the footage is not in court, it must be securely stored. The integrity of your recording may be compromised if there is any data loss due to a power surge or data dump.
With this information, you should be able to make informed decisions when it comes to your security camera system. If you have any tips to share, please connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
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