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Camera placement in common areas
July 12, 2023
Camera placement in common areas
          I have multiple apartment sites that have clubhouses with pools, public BBQ areas, lounge entertainment areas, weight rooms, package rooms, etc. I have installed, per request, cameras at these locations to view these entry points, clubhouse common area, weight rooms, etc and also overlooking the pool area including the sidewalks, BBQ area and the water.
          The question has been asked of me if it’s “legal” to record and view the pool area and other associated areas of the facility?
          I have responded that the cameras all view “public” areas and in these areas no perception of privacy is guaranteed or expected. Someone coming to the pool to swim or lay out is in public view just like a beach. Also, if someone is working out in the gym my clients want to see these areas for misuse of a machine, harassment to other guest by someone, damage to equipment and so-forth.  So, having a cameras watch these area for vandalism, accidents, unauthorized access, damage from a person or weather, or misuse of the area would be completely legal. All these cameras are in plain view and not hidden.
          Can you share your thoughts on this please.
          You are correct in all assumptions.  It's matter of expectation of privacy.  Only caveat is that I suppose some camera placement, even in public or semi-public areas, can be suspect.  For example, a camera that focuses on crotch in the weight room or on breasts from above; sort of stupid stuff that I doubt you would install that way.  There may be specific statutory prohibition in some places like bathroom and perhaps a public gym, but each state would need to be researched for that.  General rule is no areas where privacy is expected.  States with any rules will prohibit cameras in dressing rooms, bathroom and any area where there is possibility of privacy expectation. 
          Be mindful that video is much different than audio interception and recording.  All states require either one or all parties to a conversation to consent to audio interception or recording, and that cannot be obtained in a public place.  Signs do not constitute consent.  I am not even comfortable with audio when a person is informed.  We see this all the time when you make a call and are informed that there is audio recording.  Sometimes the recorded message will suggest you hang up if you don’t want to be recorded, no doubt assuming that a person on the line has now consented to the recording.  I have serious reservations if that’s the case.  Of course there is rarely a problem because the audio is not misused and so no one is the wiser, so to speak. 
          Just imagine hearing your recorded conversation on a commercial or advertisement.  I don’t think remaining on the line constitutes consent and I am not aware of any law specifically addressing the issue [let us know if you know of one]. 
          Some video is not permitted and no excuse would seem to alter that.  Some gray areas exist.  For example, how about cameras in a bedroom so that an elderly person can be watched, or children?  A kitchen or living room?  A backyard?  Here’s how that can play out.  Camera is on neighbor’s house but it does view some area of adjoining property.  It happens that the area is just where the neighbors decides to sunbathe naked or have sex regularly.  Those images end up on U-Tube or on a some alarm company’s nationwide TV commercials.  Some misuse is less obvious. 
          Except for the clearly illegal placement the Standard Form Agreements make is clear that it’s the end user’s responsibility to use cameras and audio lawfully, so it’s not your problem [until your decal ends up in the news, of course]. 

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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