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CCTV Monitoring: Frequently Asked Questions and Regulations

Q. What are the laws surrounding video surveillance?

A.
There is no single law that governs video surveillance. While it is not prohibited in any state, the state laws differ in various ways. States like California and New York do not allow surveillance in hotel rooms, changing rooms, bathrooms, and other such places where one might get undressed. Certain states require employers to inform their employees and customers about the presence of video cameras on the property.
Things such as places where video surveillance is allowed, providing due notice, hidden cameras, fines and penalties associated with unauthorized videotaping, etc. are treated differently across the country. Please contact your local law enforcement authority for more details.

Q. Who can install CCTV cameras?

A.
From individuals to businesses and public places, CCTV cameras may be used by anyone who intends to safeguard their property and prevent/report criminal activity. However, one must ensure that their video surveillance measures do not infringe upon someone else’s right to privacy and record their bathrooms, bedrooms, changing rooms, and other similar places.

Q. How do I meet the privacy requirements while implementing video surveillance?

A.
Taking a few simple precautions can ensure your video surveillance measures don’t land you in trouble. While installing cameras, make sure that these are placed in places where one does not expect privacy. The cameras should also not face areas such as bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.
You should also exercise caution and ensure your surveillance devices do not record any audio without explicit permission. Posting relevant CCTV signs that communicate the presence of video/audio devices is also a good way to prevent attracting any legal liabilities.

Q. Are there any CCTV laws or requirements that employers must comply with?

A.
There are no specific federal laws regarding video surveillance that employers must comply with, except the exclusion of certain employees engaged in classified/protected activities from being monitored. However, state laws may be applicable and may vary in more respects than one.
Employers must contact their local authorities for more clarity on video surveillance and also take certain measures to safely implement video monitoring. These include keeping cameras away from sensitive areas like washrooms, changing rooms, gym, etc. and notifying employees of the surveillance policies.

Q. What are the rules governing CCTV signage?

A.
In the absence of a comprehensive law governing CCTVs, it’s difficult to list down rules regarding CCTV signage. These may differ across states in accordance with the applicable state laws, if any. However, there are some good practices you may follow when posting CCTV signs.
To ensure your signs do not go unnoticed, post them conspicuously at well-lit and highly visible spots. Entrances and exits make for good places to post CCTV signs. The signs should not cause any obstruction, be easy to read, and placed preferably at eye level.
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