Q We have a few concealed cameras placed in our home so we can keep track of what is happening while away. K., Rancho Palos Verdes A It is legal to have a video-only recording of activities inside your home.This is in part because our 6-year-old has different baby-sitters. You are not required to let anyone know, nor does it matter if the camera is hidden.But that video must be utilized for a reasonable purpose.It cannot be an overt invasion of someone’s privacy.For example, we are all entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as when we are taking a shower.Under California law, it is potentially illegal if such a camera also records audio.It is not lawful to record an oral communication through use of a hidden camera or device if a person has not consented to it.Q Is there no invasion of our privacy posed by all these video cameras outside on buildings? D., El Segundo A If you are out in public, such as walking on a sidewalk, you are pretty much fair game.
Section 647(1) prohibits, among other things, looking at someone through a hole or opening — be it by camera, binoculars or other instrumentality — when he or she is in a dressing room, tanning booth, bedroom “or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, (if this is done) with the intent to invade that individual’s privacy.” The statute, however, closes with: “This subdivision shall not apply to those areas of a private business used to count currency or other negotiable instruments.” As such, it may be applicable to your workplace.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 30 years of experience.