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Camera placement and alarm co liability
July 12,  2024
Camera placement and alarm co liability
During a recent training meeting in our office, we were discussing acceptable solutions for video cameras, as well as solutions that we really don’t want to get involved with.  One of those unacceptable solutions that we have always followed in the past, was that we don’t install video cameras in areas that should reasonably assumed to be private, such as bedrooms or bathrooms. 
Of course the rules of the universe took over when we discussed this together and we suddenly had 3 different sales opportunities for video that all revolved around the ability of an adult child to add a camera into a bedroom to watch over a parent that needed 24-hour care.   The stated intention is that the children need to see if they have fallen when getting in or out of bed so that they can get help quick.
Can we get your thoughts on if this should be allowed at all, and if so, what should be done to protect our company and employees from liability for installing the cameras. 
Thanks in advance for your thoughts, and thank you for everything you do. 
Eric Widner
General Manager
LOUD Security Systems 
another question

               I have a client asking me to install cameras on the interior of the home.  Mostly common areas, but some guest bedrooms as well. The client would have the ability to turn them on or off individually.
Morally I don't love the idea of doing bedrooms, but what are the
legalities here? Are there any additional considerations if the
cameras have audio recording as well? The job is in Calfornia.
Thank you
Yitz Shaffer, President
Six Point Technology

            Cameras and audio recording remain hot topics and source of much confusion.  In fact, I had a lengthy call today with a police department in Maryland asking my opinion on a camera with audio placement installed on residence aimed at a next door night club venue. 
            Your question is more common.  In my analysis and response I do start with an assumption, that you use the Kirschenbaum Standard Contracts, in this case, the Residential All in One.  With that contract you can install just about any system, just about anywhere, and it’s the subscriber’s obligation to use the equipment legally. 
            Cameras are used in many type of PERS and medical alert systems, particularly those that monitoring entering a restricted area or leaving a permitted area.  Parents often want to keep eye on their children while in nanny custody and care at the house, and children often want to keep eye on their parents when in aid or supervised care or alone at the house.  Those systems may have started with motion with alert only, but now most assuredly include camera and audio functions.
            The answer is more common sense than legal; hopefully they coincide.  I think we all agree that there are places you shouldn’t install video or audio, no matter what song and dance the subscriber gives you.  I won’t bother to illustrate an example; use your imagination.  But it’s the gray areas that raise concern; the bedrooms, living spaces.  In commercial it’s the dressing area, but not dressing room, the gym but not the bathrooms, hallways leading to areas where surveillance would not be permitted but not inside the area.  As long as you are still in a gray area you could use the Disclaimer Notice in addition to the All in One to describe your concerns and that those concerns were conveyed to the subscriber. 
            Most statutes make it illegal to use devices in improper places, though some do include installing in the prohibitions, check if unsure.
            I’ve opined many times that the problem with the audio / video systems is not where they are placed but how the data is used.  Even legally placed audio and video can be used unlawfully or cross the line to impose civil liability.  Alarm companies participating in the inappropriate distribution or dissemination of the data could be liable and likely to be sued along with the primary abuser of the equipment and data.  If becomes more likely when audio and video is housed by the alarm company on off-premises servers, whether in the “cloud” or at the alarm company facilities in receivers on site. This might be the case even if the alarm company doesn’t look at the data and merely permits it’s retrieval or actually does view or listen to the data before sending it to the subscriber who then abuses its use.  These are unsettled questions but lawsuits and legislation are surely going to deal with the issues eventually.  Until then, use Kirschenbaum Contracts and carry E&O insurance. And, seek counsel when in doubt [join the Program]

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301