Home Security Laws You Need to Know

At Bosma, we are proud to offer a wide variety of home security cameras and devices to help keep your home and property safe and secure. Bosma is a global company that sells our products worldwide. There are various laws and regulations regarding the placement and use of security cameras and monitoring devices. In today’s post, we will discuss some of the things you need to be aware of when using your personal home security systems in the United States.

Before we share some general information, it is important to note that the laws in the United States will differ based on federal, state, county, and local jurisdiction. If you have questions regarding your specific area or intended use, check local laws. For the most part, laws support the ability for homeowners and renters to use security cameras for personal safety, but restrictions are placed to prevent audio eavesdropping, surveillance, or stalking.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Generally speaking, it is okay to place a video camera in a public space so long as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Reasonable expectation of privacy covers those places that are assumed to be personal or private — bathrooms, bedrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, etc. While your home is your space, there is still a reasonable expectation of privacy for those who enter your home.

How does this apply to Bosma security products? Home security cameras can be placed nearly anywhere in your home. The purpose of our security cameras is to detect invasion or be used as a baby monitor, but are not designed to invade privacy. When speaking to our video doorbell, the front porch is considered a public place that is not assumed to be private or where privacy should be expected. Bosma encourages our customers to limit who has access to the Bosma app and the connected devices to avoid any misuse.

Additionally, be mindful of changes to what is considered public and private areas in your home. For instance, the living room, generally, is a public area that should be no cause for concern to be monitored via a security camera. However, if you have a house guest that is staying on your couch, for all intents and purposes, your living room has become a bedroom, and may be considered a private area while your guest is present.

Key takeaways:

  • Check local jurisdiction before using recording devices.
  • Honor reasonable expectation of privacy.

Audio Surveillance Vs. Video Monitoring

Many states and local municipalities require all parties who are being recorded to know and consent to being recorded. This is the primary reason that Bosma cameras are set up to record 18-second events when triggered by sound or motion detection. This helps prevent the intentional or unintentional surveillance of a person in the area and to honor privacy. In many places, you can still have a nanny cam to monitor what is happening inside your home when you are not home, so long as the person being monitored is aware of the possibility they are on film, there is not continuous audio or video surveillance, and the footage is not used as blackmail.

To help reduce the risk of violating laws, we recommend that you place your security cameras in plain view and switch the features to be triggered by motion or sound detection rather than continuous recording. For elderly loved ones, pets, nannies, or other people, letting them know that there are security cameras that you can tap into at any time will also help avoid any issue. And, of course, honoring reasonable privacy. In the instance of an intruder breaking into your home, there is a valid reason that you are capturing them on video without their permission as they are entering your home without your consent. Likewise, if you have a security camera set up in your own bedroom to monitor unauthorized entry, this is usually not listed as misuse of recording devices.

Key takeaways:

  • Video monitoring and audio surveillance are not the same things, according to law
  • It is illegal to record someone without their knowledge or consent in most places.

Recording Consent Laws By State

For the most part, recording consent laws are concerned with audio recording of personal conversations. Most states require one-party consent to record conversations, meaning if you are a part of the conversation, you can record it. However, there are states that require all-party (referred to as two-party consent) to record audio of any conversation. Generally, video may be recorded so long as your video does not capture the audio or subject of the conversation, and the people are speaking in a place that is not considered reasonably private.

Bosma monitoring devices can be set to record video and audio with time limits on the recording snippets. The two-way talk feature allows you to communicate with someone on the other end of the camera as though you were on the phone with them, so it’s important to be aware of the laws and avoid misuse of this feature. All Bosma security cameras that are sound-responsive will begin event recording when a noise triggers an event. Typically, inadvertent recording of a conversation is not considered eavesdropping or malicious if it was used to prevent or capture a home invasion.

Key takeaways:

  • Identify if you live in a One-Party or All-Party consent state.
  • Update your recording settings in your Bosma app.
  • Learn more about your state here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Security Cameras

A: If your home security camera captures footage on your neighbor’s property, this could be considered harassment. Speak with your neighbor if you cannot adjust the lens to avoid capturing their property. You can plant a tree or shrub to block the view of your camera from your neighbor’s property.

A: Yes and no. For the most part, if you are using your security cameras for personal protection, you may have better legal protection. However, if any properly obtained footage is used for the purposes of blackmail, malicious intent, sexual gratification, harassment, or prurient intent, you can still be held legally liable. And, alternatively, if you are using your security cameras illegally — for the intent of unauthorized surveillance or stalking, or placed in a private place — and you capture innocent footage, i.e. a break-in, crime, etc., it is still illegal, regardless of the intent. 

A: In most places, yes. As long as the person being monitored knows that they are being monitored and there is reasonable privacy, you do not have to reveal where the cameras are. 

A: With the Bosma secure app control and data encryption, it is highly unlikely that your data can be hacked and misused. We highly recommend limiting who has access as “family” on your devices. 

A: Because Bosma devices use WiFi as a connection and capture both audio and video footage, the footage captured may be subject to wiretapping laws. To prevent criminal charges, it is important to know local laws and avoid continuous recording.

A: If you capture content that law enforcement wants to access for evidentiary purposes, if you have the content saved to internal memory or external storage device, you will only be required to hand it over if subpoenaed by a judge. However, any footage captured over WiFi connection and stored on cloud servers may be accessed by law enforcement if needed. 

A: You cannot. Methods such as LED/laser blinding, jamming, hacking, cutting cables, covering the lens, or breaking the camera are all illegal and can land you in legal trouble. If your privacy is being violated by someone else’s camera, contact law enforcement.

A: Yes. For those who are subject to restrictive rules or laws, such as dorm room students, roommates, etc. you can use security cameras that point directly at your personal space and do not record audio. Or, you can utilize window/door sensors for alert notifications without recording audio or video footage. 

Tips to Avoid Breaking the Law

Know the Laws

Before you install any home security equipment, know your area’s laws, including your HOA or rental lease agreement, to avoid unintentionally doing something that may result in criminal charges down the line.

Assume Reasonable Privacy

If you are questioning whether or not an area is private, it probably is. Remember that shared spaces are considered “public,” but it is still illegal to monitor someone inside your home if they are not aware of it!

Use Strong Passwords & Encryption

The Bosma App allows you to add users to manage camera footage. We highly recommend limiting it to those who require access and make sure that your password is not something common or easy to figure out.

Obtain Consent

To ensure there are no issues, ensure that you obtain consent from those who enter your home. You can let elderly parents and guests know that there are security cameras present and answer questions about when they are recording. Pets and babies do not require consent.

Keep Intent Pure

The purpose of home security cameras is for personal and property protection. So long as your intention is in line with these objectives and does not infringe on the privacy of others, you should be okay to use them as intended without problem!

Bosma is committed to keeping you and your valuables safe and offering you peace of mind knowing that your home is protected while you’re there or away. We want all customers to enjoy their products legally and avoid criminal charges. Please use Bosma products for their intended use and refer to your local law for specific limitations. Browse our entire home security collection online today.