Can I Hide a Nanny Camera in My Pennsylvania Home? Is That Legal?
Ryan Zavodnick | November 8, 2019 | Personal Injury
So, you want to hide a nanny cam in your home to keep an eye on things while you’re gone. Maybe you want to see who’s been stealing from you. Or, maybe you want to make sure that the babysitter isn’t abusing your kids. Whatever the reason, you decide to hide a few surveillance cameras inside your home.
Is that legal? Can you record other people in your home? If you can, do you have to provide them with any kind of notice? Here’s what you need to know.
You Have the Right to Know What’s Going On In Your Home
In Pennsylvania, it’s legal to set up a hidden nanny cam in your house. You live there, and you have a right to know what’s going on inside those walls when you’re not there. In fact, hiding a nanny cam is legal in every state in the country.
However, there are limits to what you can record and where those cameras can be placed.
Be Careful When Recording Sound in Pennsylvania
Years ago, most nanny cams were only capable of recording video. Today, thanks to advances in technology, nanny cams can record video and sound. However, recording someone else’s voice without their consent in Pennsylvania is against the law.
That’s because Pennsylvania is a “two-party” consent state. If you’re recording sound, you have a legal obligation to disclose that fact to anyone who might be impacted. So, if your nanny cam is recording (or streaming) sounds while you’re away, you better let your babysitter know.
Failing to disclose that information could be disastrous if you end up recording evidence of a crime or abuse. Since you violated the law, you might not be able to use that recording as evidence in court or if you file a lawsuit.
Pennsylvania isn’t the only state where you have to disclose the fact that you’re recording sound. Other states will similar laws include:
- New Hampshire
- Oregon, and
Let’s say you decide to travel to Hawaii for an extended vacation with your family. You and your spouse go out one evening and hire a local babysitter to watch the kids at the hotel. If you want to keep an eye on things with a hidden camera, that’s fine. However, if you want to hear what’s going on, you’ll have to let the babysitter know that their conversations are being recorded.
You Can’t Put a Hidden Camera Anywhere
It’s reasonable that you’d want to know what’s going on while you’re not home. It’s reasonable to expect to be able to keep an eye on your living room, kitchen, and den. However, privacy rights trump your desire to watch over your entire home.
If you live in Pennsylvania, think twice before putting a hidden camera in your bathroom. When someone uses the bathroom, they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Putting a camera in the lavatory infringes that right.
Do you have a live-in nanny or housekeeper? Their room is probably off-limits, too. They have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal living quarters. It could be a crime to do so. That person could even potentially file a lawsuit against you for any damage they suffer, such as emotional distress or suffering.
Consider the Dangers of Using a Wireless Nanny Cam
While you can use a hidden recording device in your home, it’s important to understand that a wireless – or WIFI – version might be risky. While the wireless camera can let you live-stream what’s going on while you’re away, it’s also susceptible to hacking.
Many parents have discovered that efforts to protect their kids have backfired – resulting in footage of their children posted online. This doesn’t mean your camera will be hacked or that your home (and kids) will be live-streamed on the internet. However, there’s always a chance.
So, you might want to (a) consider a closed-circuit radio device or (b) take special precautions when using a WIFI camera. What precautions? Use a password-protected network. Change your password frequently. Don’t give the babysitter access to that network unless you trust them and know them well.