Security Camera Law
Legal issues

The right to privacy, although not explicitly protected by the Constitution, is of paramount importance to Americans - both in the way it affects our "private" lives and our "public" behavior. But, what about the use of security cameras - are there any laws in America that regulate the use of security cameras?

Public Security Camera Laws

In short, there is little or no federal regulation regarding the use of security cameras in public places. As such, any security camera used in your place of work, whether or not you know about its installation, is probably going to be okay; provided that it can be shown that the security camera was installed for "safety purposes", and that no invasion of privacy issue is in question.

That said, a number of states have now introduced regulations which prohibit the use of a security camera in a "private place" - which means a place where someone may reasonably expect to be safe from any unauthorized surveillance, even if these may be in "public areas": in particular, hidden cameras in locker rooms or restrooms.

Keep in mind though that even in those states where there is some minimal regulation regarding the use of security cameras in public places, any breach of these laws usually amounts to a misdemeanor, with a fine.

Private Security Camera Laws

In short, there is nothing to stop you installing security cameras in your home, nor are you required to inform others of the fact that security cameras have been installed. That said, keep in mind that if you place the security camera in a place where someone may otherwise believe they would have been entitled to "privacy", such as the bathroom of your home, then you may find that you are in breach of their right to privacy if you cannot later establish that you employed the use of these security cameras for safety purposes.

Complaining About Security Camera Use

With no federal laws directly regulating the use of security cameras, and little state laws regulating the use, in the event that you would like to complain about someone else's over zealous use of a security camera then you are going to need to rely on other laws already in place. Unfortunately, not only are there few of these, for example there is no labor protection laws regulating the use of security cameras in the workplace, but what laws there are have so far been interpreted in various different ways. All of this has lead to confusion about regulating the use of security camera in America today.

Possible Future Legislation?

Following 9/11 it certainly seems that there is no rush to legislate for the use of security cameras - either in public, such as your office, or in private, such as your home. Indeed, the one and only time Congress has considered legislating for security camera use, the legislation was stalled and eventually went away!


Taking into account the above, everyone walking around America today should do so with the caveat that at any particular time and in any particular place, they may well be being watched on a security surveillance camera!

See also: Home Security