A "nanny cam" is 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 these cameras are equipped with sound recording capabilities in addition to video.
It is completely legal in all states to record visual images of persons and events in one’s own home, even if the people being filmed are unaware of the videotaping. Keep in mind, though, that states may vary with regards to the legality of videotapes made of public places, such as a street or sidewalk. 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, you may be able to legally make that audio recording by obtaining the nanny's consent to you making an audio recording of their work session.
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 installing such equipment altogether.
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 in the house, 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.
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.
First, nanny cam technology tends to yield low-quality video footage, meaning that there may be distortions in the recording, including blurred images and 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, as an intercepted video will reveal the details of your home’s interior. Finally, remember that video recordings are usually only legal if 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 people outside the home, such as bystanders or passer-bys on a public street.
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 qualified 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.
Last Modified: 09-30-2016 03:04 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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