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The Security Camera Laws in New York: Everything You Need to Know

Welcome to New York

New York is one of the most populated states in the US. It’s full of culture, historical landmarks, and wonderful people. It also is one of the smaller states in terms of landmass. That means everyone must live closer together. Security and privacy are significant issues there. Homeowners and businesses have good reasons to install security systems, but what about the security camera laws in New York?

security camera laws in New York

What are the security camera laws in New York?

The law that regulates security cameras is also the same law that regulates all other types of camera use in New York. That means you generally have the right to put up a security camera on your property as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of anyone else. There are, however, some specific laws about security cameras in New York that you should be aware of.

New York Backyard Surveillance Law

New York state has no specific laws regarding outdoor residential security cameras. On the other hand, New York’s Backyard Surveillance Law protects homeowners and renters from unlawful invasion of privacy within their backyards.

Residents have the right to sue anyone video recording videotaping them with the intent to annoy, alarm, harass or threaten them.

New York Unlawful Surveillance Law

Unlawful Surveillance involves using hidden cameras to record people in private situations. The specific elements of Unlawful Surveillance are:

The intentional use or installation of an imaging device

To “surreptitiously” (aka secretly) view, broadcast, or record

A person dressing, undressing, or engaging in sexual or other intimate conduct

Without the person’s knowledge

And when they would otherwise have a reasonable expectation of privacy

People have a reasonable expectation of privacy in places like bathrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms. Installing hidden cameras in these places is illegal and could result in serious legal consequences. Unlawful surveillance is a felony offense with up to four years in prison and possible registration as a sex offender.

New York Eavesdropping Law

The state of New York has laws against “eavesdropping,” which is the intentional overhearing, wiretapping, or recording of a conversation without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. Just like Texas, New York is a one-party consent state.

New York law makes it a crime to record any conversation unless one of the persons involved in the conversation gives prior consent. You as an individual can give consent to be recorded as long as you’re actually in the conversation.

New York’s one-party consent law applies to security cameras that also record audio. Simply viewing or listening to a recording device does not make you part of the conversation. And it’s a crime to listen in without consent from at least one person in the conversation.

You can use a nanny-cam in your home to watch housesitters or childcare workers. To do so legally, you must point out where the cameras are installed, and it’s a good idea to get written consent from any person working inside your home.

welcome to New York

What are the Penalties for Violating the Security Camera Laws in New York

The penalties for violating the security camera laws in New York depend on the specific offense. Penalties range from misdemeanor offenses and fines up to serious felonies.

Violating the Eavesdropping Law

New York law prescribes different penalties for eavesdropping depending on how a person uses the recorded audio. Using a recording to threaten, annoy, or harass someone is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Using a recording for serious criminal offenses like blackmail or extortion becomes a felony offense, punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5000.

The Unlawful Surveillance Law

Unlawful Surveillance is a felony offense in New York. The penalties for Unlawful Surveillance include up to four years in prison and the possibility of having to register as a sex offender. Additionally, the court can order an offender to pay restitution to the victim and/or civil damages.

The Backyard Surveillance Law

The Backyard Surveillance Law is a civil law, meaning that the penalties are designed to compensate the victim rather than punish the offender. A victim can sue the offender for damages, including punitive damages, and can also seek injunctions to stop the surveillance.

Violating any of New York’s security camera laws can result in serious legal consequences. If you’re unsure whether your security camera system is legal, it’s always best to consult with an experienced attorney.

business surveillance camera

Can I Install a Security Camera in My New York Home

It’s important to know the security camera laws in New York before installing any cameras in your home. Violating these laws can result in serious penalties, including jail time and fines. There are specific laws governing the use of security cameras, and it’s important to be familiar with them before installation.

Installing Cameras Outside Your New York Home

You can install security cameras on the outside of your home as long as they don’t violate any of New York’s security camera laws. Security cameras that capture audio recordings are subject to the state’s eavesdropping laws, which require you to have consent from at least one person in the conversation before recording.

You should also be aware of the state’s backyard surveillance laws. Your neighbors can sue if you record them in their backyard without their consent.

Installing Cameras Inside Your New York Home

You can install security cameras in your home to keep an eye on your possessions and to watch childcare workers or housesitters, but there are certain restrictions. You must get written consent from any person working inside your home before recording, and you must inform workers of all cameras inside your home.

Security cameras cannot under any circumstances be placed in areas of privacy, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. You can install bedroom nanny-cams to watch small children without any restrictions, but you must point out any hidden cameras to workers inside your home.

Can I Install Security Cameras in My New York Business?

Just like other states like California, a private business in New York can lawfully video record employees in certain areas of the workplace. The employer must only use the video for lawful purposes, such as safety and security. Employers cannot video record anyone in bathrooms, locker rooms, or changing rooms without a court order.

Secretly recording employees, even in non-private areas, is a felony offense, including video with audio. To avoid criminal liability, businesses must be careful to not record or otherwise capture any audio of their employees.

It’s always a good idea to have your employees sign waivers stating they consent to be video recorded, even when the cameras are visible and installed in plain sight. This way, employees can be clearly aware of the cameras and avoid liablity for the business.

The business should also make sure that customers and other non-employees are aware of video recording in the area. Signs posted clearly in plain sight are a good way to accomplish these notifications.

apartment security camera outdoor

How to File a Complaint if Someone is Violating New York Security Camera Laws

If you feel that someone is violating New York’s security camera laws, it’s important to file a complaint as soon as possible. You can file a complaint with the New York State Police or your local police department.

How to File a Complaint with the New York State Police

The New York State Police have a dedicated complaints email for filing reports of illegal surveillance and other crimes. You can file a complaint by visiting the State Police website and emailing their crime tip mailbox.

What to Include in Your Complaint

Be sure to include as much information as possible when filing a complaint with the State Police. Include the address or location of where the illegal surveillance is taking place, the name and contact information of the person responsible for the surveillance, and any other relevant details.

In addition, you should also include the name and contact information for any witnesses to the illegal surveillance.

What Happens After You File a Complaint?

After you file, the New York State Police will investigate the matter and take appropriate action. You will likely be contacted to give a formal statement and provide any evidence you’ve collected.

The State Police may decide to continue investigating the matter or they can forward the investigation to local law enforcement in your city or county. State Troopers investigate misdemeanor offenses, and felonies are forwarded to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation (or BCI).

Depending on the severity of the violation, the person responsible for the illegal surveillance may be fined or even arrested.

New York security camera laws are in place to protect the privacy of employees and citizens. There are restrictions on where cameras can be placed, what type of footage can be recorded, and who can be filmed. If you believe someone is violating these laws, you should file a complaint with the New York State Police or local law enforcement.

FAQs

Do I have to notify my neighbors that I have security cameras in New York?

No, you don’t have to notify your neighbors about your security cameras. Your cameras are completely legal as long as they are not pointed at a neighbor’s backyard or in an area where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom or bedroom.

Can I use security camera footage for criminal prosecution in New York?

In general, yes. However, there are some exceptions, such as if the footage was taken in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom or bedroom. Additionally, the footage must be clear enough to identify the individual involved.

Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in New York?

Yes, you can sue someone for recording you without your permission in New York. If the footage was taken in a place where you had a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom, bedroom, or locker room, you may be able to sue for invasion of privacy. You can also sue a neighbor you suspect of violating New York’s Backyard Surveillance Law.

Do I have to tell my New York employees that I’m recording them?

Yes, you should notify your employees that they’re being recorded. You can do this by posting signs in plain sight or having employees sign a waiver consenting to the recording.

What are the penalties for violating New York security camera laws?

The penalties for violating New York security camera laws depend on the severity of the offense. Violations can result in a fine, jail time, or both. Additionally, the person responsible for the illegal surveillance may have their security cameras confiscated.

Do I need a permit to install home security cameras in New York?

No, you don’t need a permit to install home security cameras in New York. However, there are restrictions on where you can place your cameras and what type of footage you can record.

Where can New York landlords point security cameras?

New York landlords can point security cameras at any common area on the property, such as the lobby, hallways, or parking lot. Cameras can also be pointed at the exterior of the building. However, they cannot be pointed into individual apartments or homes. Additionally, landlords must notify tenants in writing if they have security cameras on the property.

What type of security cameras are illegal in New York?

Security cameras that are hidden or disguised as something else, such as a plant or clock, are illegal in New York. Additionally, cameras that record audio without the consent of all parties involved are also illegal.

New York Security Camera Laws Quick Reference

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have any further legal questions, please contact your local law enforcement agency or an attorney.

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