Are there any legal issues with security cameras outside the home?
November 10, 2011 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Outdoor security camera system for a residence. Any potential legal issues to consider?

I recently acquired a security DVR system (with cameras) from a restaurant. I would like to setup a few cameras outside my house. All footage would be of my own property (mainly entranced and side access to my backyard). All cameras would be pointed towards my house (to prevent any confusion). Cameras also would not be visible from the street.

I was wondering if there are any legal issues to worry about. Also, I live 1/2 a block away from an elementary school.

The only home security systems I've seen/heard of are the intrusion/alarm type.
posted by wongcorgi to Law & Government (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here is what I was once told about home security cameras concerns: if you have security cameras, it gives regular people (not the criminals) a false sense of security that someone is watching them and keeping them safe.

If that is the case, and if a crime is committed against someone within the view of the security cameras, the camera owner / operator could be liable for damages because the camera owner / operator didn't render immediate aid, even if the cameras are not monitored 24/7.

If this is true, and it’s not someone pulling my leg, yes it is ridiculous.
posted by lstanley at 1:56 PM on November 10, 2011

I don't see how you set these up pointing at your home without that providing Bad Actors the ability to come up in the blind spot and disable them. I don't personally see any value in having cameras recording my home but if you're going to do it why do it in an easily defeat-able way?

I assume you're asking based on privacy issues. I an not a lawyer, just a crank about 1st amendment issues. But for the most part people do not have any expectation of privacy out in public. If you're recording audio you can run afoul of wiretapping laws (depending on your state) but I don't think these things usually have audio, do they?

It's possible that a particularly twitchy legal adviser would suggest you put up signs indicating surveillance is in process but I doubt you'd ever face any real challenge on this. However you might view such a sign as an additional deterrent.

As far as the school or any other places are concerned you should just be using basic sense about pointing them at areas you have a reasonable right to view (and where folks don't have an expectation of privacy).
posted by phearlez at 2:45 PM on November 10, 2011

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