Nanny Cam with Sound Lawyers

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What are Nanny Cams?

A Nanny Cam is basically a small hidden camera implanted in a household object such as a lamp or a stuffed animal. It is usually used for the purpose of observing a nanny or babysitter to ensure that they are not abusing the child or the person’s home. Many of them are equipped with sound recording capabilities in addition to video. 

Is it legal to install a nanny cam with sound in my home?

In all states it is completely legal to record visual images of persons and events in one’s own home, even if the persons are unaware of the videotaping. States may vary with regards to videotapes made of public places such as a street or sidewalk. 
 
However, audio recordings may definitely be considered a legal violation of privacy rights. Audio recordings of another person’s voice made without their consent is illegal in several states.  Such recordings may also constitute an offense under Federal wiretapping and eavesdropping laws.   
 
On the other hand, audio recordings may be legal if the person being recorded consents to the recording. So, if you feel that there is a need to make audio recordings, it may be an option to inform the nanny that you will be recording their work session with both audio and video.
 
Therefore, if you are considering installing a nanny cam that has audio recording capabilities, be sure to check that you are not in violation of state or federal laws. It may be best to err on the safe side and avoid such equipment altogether.

Where can I place a nanny cam in my home?

Since the home is not technically considered to be a workplace, many employment laws do not apply in a home setting. However, federal laws prohibit secretly recorded visual images of persons in a place where they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. 
 
This means that you may not make recordings of a nanny in places such as a bathroom, dressing room, or in their living quarters if they reside with the family. Other places, such as a kitchen, family room or dining room are acceptable for video recordings so long as it is established that the nanny will be conducting activities in that area.

For what purposes can I use a nanny-cam recording?

Nanny cam recordings should only be used for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating the performance of the nanny or babysitter while they are executing their duties. Most state laws require that the videos be used for “reasonable” purposes. Therefore they may not be used for inappropriate purposes such as voyeurism or spying.  
 
If a legal dispute should arise between the family and a babysitter, some courts do allow nanny cam videotapes to be entered in as evidence in a court of law. Some even allow recordings with audio as evidence, so long as the audio recording is not played or is muted during court presentations. 

What other considerations are there regarding nanny cams?

First, nanny cam technology tends to yield low-quality video footage, and so distortions in recording can often result (i.e., blurred images, choppy movements). 
 
Also, be aware that it is relatively easy to intercept video recordings made by a wireless nanny cam. This can present safety issues since an intercepted video will reveal the details of your home’s interior.
 
Finally, remember that video recordings are legal so long as they only capture images that are recorded on private property, meaning within the bounds of the house and yard. Thus, a person can run into legal issues if they have recorded persons outside the home such as bystanders or passer-bys on a public street. 

Should I hire an attorney for my nanny-cam with sound recording issue?

State laws vary widely with regards to how wiretapping and eavesdropping laws are interpreted. Also, nanny-cam capabilities are constantly evolving as technology advances. Thus, working with a lawyer can help keep you informed and updated as to the laws governing video and audio recordings of persons. Whether you are the person being recorded in the video, or you are the person making the recording, an attorney can advise you of your rights under state and federal laws.

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Last Modified: 07-15-2010 03:12 PM PDT

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