We’ve long touted installing security cameras as one of the most effective measures of security you can take. Installing surveillance gives you the power to view live and recorded video of your property at any time. Obviously, this adds tremendous security and peace of mind. Additionally, the mere presence of cameras alone often acts as a crime deterrent. After all, a visible security presence frequently encourages criminals to find another target. However, if done carelessly, installing cameras can also create issues. In extreme circumstances, this can even lead to legal trouble down the road. Therefore, we always work to educate our customers in proper camera installation. In this post, we share how you can avoid some common camera installation issues.

First, we’ll look at why installing cameras with audio-capturing equipment can spell trouble. Then, we’ll focus on cameras that violate individuals’ expectation of privacy. This term looms quite large in the security industry. We’ll explain what it means, and how you can avoid finding yourself in hot water. Finally, we’ll share the dangers of installing fake cameras. While this might seem like an innocent security “trick,” it can backfire in a big way. Now, let’s see why installing cameras that capture both audio and video can end up backfiring.

A clipart depiction of a micrphone

While customers in many states can install audio-recording microphones as part of their surveillance systems, this often leads to legal issues in Massachusetts

Installing Cameras that Record Audio

In many states, audio recording requires “single party consent.” This means that as long as one party knows about the recording of a conversation, the recording process itself remains legal. While that may sound extreme, it allows customers to place cameras with audio recording equipment on their property without any legal ramifications. While many of the states have laws and acts that further define how this recoding may take place, surveillance customers can generally find a legal way to record audio in these states.

On the other hand, Massachusetts has an “all party consent” policy. This means that every party being recorded needs to explicitly consent to this recording taking place. Of course, when it comes to installing cameras, you’d find it simply impossible to make this happen. After all, cameras capturing both audio and video record at all times. There is no practical way for everyone that enters your property — or comes near enough for surveillance microphones to pick them up — to give you permission to record them. For this reason, we simply define installing audio-capturing surveillance in our state as an illegal practice. Next up, let’s examine Massachusetts priacy laws, and how you can avoid camera installation issues in this important area.

Cameras that Violate an Expectation of Privacy

Massachusetts has a very specific law against interfering with the privacy of others. Section 1B of Chapter 214 in Title 1, Part 3 of Massachusetts General Law (much more easily cited as “The Massachusetts Privacy Act”) is most often cited in instances in which someone claims a breach of privacy. According to the law — which you can read in full here — “A person shall have a right against unreasonable, substantial or serious interference with his privacy.” Of course, as with most laws, this leaves plenty of room for interpretation and gray areas. Therefore, in this section we’ll explain how we avoid camera installation issues that come from careless camera placement. Let’s begin with a look best practices for indoor camera installation before shifting our attention to installing exterior cameras.

Indoor Cameras

When we install interior cameras, we certainly avoid installing cameras in any bathrooms at all. Whether in a home or business, people certainly expect privacy in these areas. When it comes to commercial spaces, locker rooms or changing areas of stores also represent camera-free zones. On the residential side, we also try to avoid placing cameras inside bedrooms, or any room commonly used for sleeping. Finally, we also recommend staying away from “hidden” cameras in a home. If a guest at your home finds out that they have been recorded while they did not expect it, this could lead to issues based on an interpretation of the Privacy Act. Instead, we recommend a visible surveillance presence in appropriate areas. Next up, let’s see how we avoid privacy-related issues when we install outdoor cameras.

Outdoor Cameras

Exterior cameras provide plenty of opportunities for installation mishaps that we attempt to avoid. For starters, many people believe that cameras should never provide a view onto another property. However, as long as the cameras are installed in places where anyone would have a clear view of another property, we’re generally in the clear. This may include seeing the street, as well as into neighboring plots of lands or other peoples’yards.

However, especially in residential settings, we recommend dicussing your plans with your neighbors to make sure they approve of your cameras’ views. In some cases, we even have customers’ neighbors stop by after we install the cameras to view what the surveillance can “see.” This ensures that they know which parts of their property might be visible and do not object to it. In cases where cameras see over a fence or into a neighbor’s windows, we always need to adjust the view. After all, people expect privacy within a fenced-in yard, and they certainly expect privacy within their homes. Next up, let’s see why installing dummy cameras can lead to unexpected problems.

Fake or “Dummy” Cameras

Those wishing to reap the benefits of the “deterrent” side of cameras often put up fake (or “dummy”) cameras. While this might seem like an inexpensive, common-sense way to add potential security, it can actually lead to big-time problems. Some people find this confusing. After all, fake cameras cannot cause the privacy issues we’ve raised so far in this post. However, they can still create their own unique liability concerns. These issues can arise when individuals seeing fake cameras expect and seek out video footage of an incident. This certainly happens much more often in the commercial security industry than it does in a home.

A clipart image reading "Fake" in read lettering

While fake cameras can provide cheap and easy security, they can also lead to legal issues for those who install them.

For example, if a customer or employee in a store gets robbed in the presence of a dummy camera, they will want that footage available to help solve the crime. Moreover, they may even act differently during the event itself upon seeing the “camera.” In cases such as these, property owners can find themselves in legal hot water. The same type of situation can occur with slips and falls or traffic accidents in a parking lot of a business in front of fake cameras. For this reason, installing fake cameras makes our list of camera installation issues to avoid.

Avoiding Common Camera Installation Issues

We hope that this post helps you avoid common camera installation issues. Like many areas of security, making mistakes when installing this equipment can lead to both security issues and legal challenges. Fortunately, we are here to help! We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about the material in this post. Moreover, we also invite you to take advantage of our free site survey program. We offer complimentary security audits and equipment quotes to both new and existing customers alike. We also extend this invitation to both commercial and residential customers.

While on site, we can help design an effective surveillance system that follows local laws and proper installation guidelines. Moreover, we can also make suggestions for other security equipment based on our observations of your property. Maybe you already have some cameras in place, and want to make some additions or improvements. Or, perhaps you do not have cameras yet, but wish to install them effectively and legally right from the start. Either way, we will be be happy to help. Together, we can design a complete surveillance system to keep your property and everyone on it as safe and secure as possible!