Video Surveillance Laws – Where Cameras Aren’t Allowed

Video Surveillance Laws – Where Cameras Aren’t Allowed

By Christian M Gillman

Video surveillance and the legality behind it is a tricky situation that should not be taken lightly. Whether it be covert surveillance or simple video surveillance for use in a business or home; it is a good idea to be briefly aware of the legal issues surrounding it.


This information is a quick reference of potential surveillance installations and the legal considerations they involve. It is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney about your regions video surveillance laws before using any recording devices.


First off it should be known that the laws and regulations concerning video surveillance can change from state to state, and it is always good to know the laws concerning the state you’ll be in. Furthermore the rules can vary when it comes to overt vs covert surveillance as well; so it is a good idea to know which type your video surveillance will be classified as.

Standard Overt Surveillance

Overt surveillance is generally any type of surveillance that is being used in a wide open fashion and is easily seen by anyone being recorded. This also includes posting signs about the use of video surveillance.

Overt video surveillance that is being recorded is generally acceptable in the United States; except for in places where a reasonable amount of privacy is to be expected; including areas such as restrooms, locker rooms, etc.. The laws for overt surveillance can vary from state to state however; so knowing your states laws is a good idea.

Covert Video Surveillance

Covert or hidden surveillance is generally any recording, photographing, etc of people without their knowledge of the surveillance being used.

Currently there are 13 states that ban the use of hidden or covert surveillance in private places without the consent of the party being observed. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Utah.

10 states even prohibit trespassing onto private property for any kind of surveillance of the people there as well. These states include Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Utah.

Charges against people breaking these laws can run the gambit from fines to felonies to jail time. In fact unauthorized use of hidden and covert surveillance in a state such as Michigan can result in a felony charge with a fine of $2000 and up to 2 years in prison.

In the end these facts can help you make an informed decision about your surveillance use; however it is HIGHLY recommended that an attorney be consulted as well before using video or even audio surveillance of any kind.

Christian M Gillman has worked in the surveillance industry for over 6 years. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, learn more about surveillance, and find great products at

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