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One-Party Consent
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Video Surveillance Laws by State [Updated March 2023]

Video Surveillance Laws by State [Updated March 2023]

State laws regarding video surveillance have to be consistent with the Constitution's Fourth Amendment. Under the amendment, people cannot be surveilled without their consent in places where they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” such as within their homes or hotel rooms, in bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, in doctor’s or lawyer’s offices, or when speaking with a therapist or minister. However, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when a person is on public roadways or in areas where the public is generally present, such as malls, stores, offices, or on public transit. People can be surveilled in these places without their knowledge or consent.

What are the rules for video surveillance?

Most states permit video surveillance in private places if the person being filmed consents to the surveillance. Generally, all that is required to give consent is to willingly enter a place where signs are posted stating that surveillance is taking place.

In all 50 states, unauthorized video surveillance for “malicious” or “unlawful” purposes is prohibited and in most states is a felony if it is done for purposes of sexual gratification—so-called “peeping tom” laws.

There is no prohibition on employers using cameras to surveil their employees—the exception being that they can’t video or record employees engaged in union organizing activities, since that is a violation of federal labor laws.

What States Allow Video Surveillance?

There are 15 states that have laws specific to video surveillance. For example, California law makes it illegal for anyone to record videos of communications that are confidential.

A small group of states, Tennessee, Utah, New Hampshire, Maine, Kansas, South Dakota, Delaware, Arkansas, and Michigan, prohibit video surveillance or the use of hidden cameras in all places where someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy unless you have obtained consent from people being filmed. Hawaii also requires consent when installing security cameras. On the other hand, Florida, Alabama, and Minnesota allow hidden video surveillance in non-private settings.

Forms of surveillance consent

Laws regulating surveillance and recording typically require one of two forms of consent: one-party consent or all-party consent. In states with one-party consent, a conversation may be recorded so long as at least one of the parties participating in the conversation consents to it. By comparison, in states with all-party consent, every person participating in the conversation must give their consent in order for the conversation to be legally recorded.

Consent requirements and guidelines are often variable. Many states apply consent requirements in private places, where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but remove those requirements in public places where privacy has been voluntarily forfeited. Also, the definition of consent can vary significantly from one state to another.

Video Surveillance Laws by State [Updated March 2023]

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Video Surveillance Laws by State [Updated March 2023]