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Audio Input on Security Cameras - Sorry Landlords You Can't Do It!

September 1, 2015:  This post originally appeared on the LandlordsNY blog, where Michelle Maratto Itkowitz is the "Legal Expert".

Question:  “I am going to install several video cameras on the outside front and rear areas of my 4 family townhouse.  None of the cameras have a built in mic  However, I have an external mic kit that can be attached to one of those cameras.  I understand that in NYS, one party needs to consent in order for audio recording when inside.  However what is the laws for recording audio and video outside of the building and on a public sidewalk?  Can someone install a video camera with audio input in this scenario?”

Answer:  

Audio surveillance is governed by the Federal Wiretap Act, which prohibits intentionally intercepting “any wire, oral or electronic communication.”  See, 18 U.S.C. §2511.  Furthermore, § 250.05 of the New York Penal Law, captioned “Eavesdropping,” renders it a class E felony for any person, other than a law enforcement officer acting under an eavesdropping warrant or a video surveillance warrant issued by a court, to engage in, among other forms of surveillance, “mechanical overhearing of a conversation.”  The same statute defines “mechanical overhearing of a conversation” as “the intentional overhearing or recording of a conversation or discussion, without the consent of at least one party thereto, by a person not present thereat, by means of any instrument, device or equipment.”  N.Y. Penal Law § 250.00.

Frankly, I do not think that it matters whether the Eavesdropping occurs inside or outside – you cannot do it.

We also found this regulation, which is telling, regarding installing cameras outside public dance halls.  NY Administrate Code Law Sec 20-360.2 states that: “…6. The video surveillance cameras shall not have an audio capability.”  READ MORE!

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