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Audio in covert cameras
October 14, 2021
Audio in covert cameras
          For many years, audio within a covert camera was thought to be illegal.  Much of the limited information about this originated with the “Safe Streets Act” of 1970.  But, in the late sixties, when the senate hearings were conducted, leading to the publication of rules restricting certain forms of audio and particularly wireless audio, video cameras were in such little use that they were hardly considered, if they were at all.
          What happened?  In order to put “teeth” in some of the restrictive regulations involving clandestine audio, one notorious purveyor of what became illegal audio, was caught and became a government snitch, helping to set up companies suspected of breaking the law.  Then years later somehow word got out that a video company doing substantial volume was making microphones available inside of their cameras.  The FBI raided that company and seized most of the company’s inventory.  That single act scarred the industry into staying away from audio.
          The Asian companies that entered the market years later seemed oblivious to all of that, or perhaps did some research and felt that audio in cameras is not a problem.  Especially when IP cameras became available as most contained a microphone and some even had two way audio.  People within the vicinity of those cameras had no way to know that what they said may have been recorded.
          Companies, like Sperry West and many distributors, continued to have concerns about audio within covert cameras and restricted access to public law enforcement only.  Today, audio is pervasive and accepted everywhere in the U.S. (I don’t know about Canada & other countries).  Our amplified audio is available built into cameras and is even available with POE cameras.
Barry Levine
          I am not aware of any law that prohibits audio in cameras.  I am not surprised; it’s how equipment is used and how the data is used that’s subject to laws prohibiting certain conduct and acts. Obviously a customer needs to know if cameras have audio capability.  Problems can – and will – arise when an alarm company installs the cameras and decides to eavesdrop or the customer decides to eavesdrop on its employees or customers, especially when the data, recorded or just listened to, just published or used for improper purposes.
          The Commercial All in One covers cameras; so does the Residential All in One

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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