Here are the facts: When it comes to spying on people with hidden cameras and other surveillance equipment, it does require the consent of one party.On top of it all, violation of this is considered a felony except for the use of hidden cameras.Cellular and cordless telephone communications are protected under state law. A person is guilty of eavesdropping when he unlawfully engages in the following activities. The use of hidden cameras is legal though.
Appart from using hidden cameras, wiretapping, which is defined as the intentional overhearing or recording of a telephonic or telegraphic communication, by a person other than the sender or receiver, without the consent of either the sender or receiver, by means of any instrument, device or equipment?
One New York court ruled that a mother who listened to her son’s telephone conversation through an extension phone violated this provision of the statute because the son explicitly instructed his mother to stay off the extension phone during the conversation and there was no proof that the other conversation participants had consented to her listening. The fact that it was her phone, in her apartment, was irrelevant.
“Mechanical overhearing of a conversation,” meaning the intentional overhearing or recording of a conversation by a person not present, without the consent of at least one party to the conversation, by means of any instrument, device or equipment except hidden cameras.
In one case, the court ruled that the tape recording of conversations heard through a hole in the floor of an apartment did not violate this provision of the statute because the person doing the recording was “present” during the conversations and the conversations were “freely overheard.”
“Intercepting or accessing of an electronic communication,” meaning the intentional acquiring, receiving, collecting, overhearing or recording of an electronic communication, without the consent of the sender or intended receiver, by means of any instrument, device or equipment. It is not a violation if the method of transmission is configured so that the communication is readily accessible to the general public. This however does not include hidden cameras.
State courts have ruled that both cellular and cordless telephone communications are protected under the state statute. This also includes hidden cameras.
Eavesdropping using various surveillance devices except hidden cameras is a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 or the amount of the defendant’s monetary gain from the violation.
Possession of an eavesdropping surveillance device(except hidden cameras) with intent to use it or allow it to be used in violation of the statute is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Also illegal (as a class B misdemeanor) is the unauthorized acquisition of information from a telephone company relating to its wires, cables, terminals, and so forth or concerning records of communications passing over its lines. A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to three months in prison and a fine of up to $500.
Now lets switch from hidden cameras to use of police scanners. It is illegal for a person who is not a police officer or peace officer to equip a motor vehicle with a radio receiving set capable of receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use or to use a vehicle so equipped. Licensed amateur radio operators are exempt. Violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months imprisonment or both.
The New York statute does not specifically provide for civil damages for eavesdropping using hidden cameras. It is not clear whether New York courts would allow a civil suit for a violation of the statute, given the state’s traditional reluctance to recognize civil causes of action for invasion of privacy beyond narrow parameters.
Nanny cams and other types of hidden cameras can present an ethical dilemma. You want to know that your kids are safe with whom ever you leave them and also watch your house sitter with hidden cameras to make sure they don’t steal Is it ok to spy with hidden cameras? Is it a violation of basic rights? Not in the United States, but other countries may prohibit the use of hidden cameras so you should check before you use one.
So go ahead and buy those hidden cameras and don’t worry about if they are legal or not. I use a hidden camera clock in my house to make I’m safe and no intruders approach and steal or vandalize.
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