Smartphones, iPhones, mobile phones, they are literally everywhere and with them comes an extraordinary piece of technology: a camera! Gone are the days when you had to get out your camcorder, digital camera, or any other fancy recording device… recording video and pictures with your phone require little investment and absolutely no training. Sure, the latest iPhone X will have the best camera features, but any smartphone can do the job – today’s smartphones have much better resolution than even modern digital cameras or camcorders!

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why you want to record video with your phone or camcorder:

Tips for A Good Video Surveillance

  • When you install a device like the Ring video doorbell, you can monitor your property and protect your property. The video doorbell and similar security systems include a security camera installed in the actual doorbell to capture everything that happens on your porch, driveway, or even in your street. It also allows you to see who is at your door before you open it – another good security measure.
Video Surveillance
  • If you suspect a neighbor or a joker of doing something harmful to your property, such as throwing garbage away or committing vandalism, video recording will go a long way to finding and prosecuting the perpetrators.
  • You may suspect that your partner or spouse is cheating on you. What better way to find out than to videotape the betrayal before confronting him or her?
  • Sometimes you may not be home, but your children are. You might want to watch them when they are home alone, check what they are doing on the Internet, or find out who they are talking to on the phone. Video can be a good way to get peace of mind.
  • In recent years, the nanny-cam has become very popular. They are placed in the living room, playroom or children’s room to watch any employed helper or babysitter and see how they interact with your children. They can also make sure that your cleaning service does not steal from you as well.
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Sometimes the detection of surveillance outside your home or property can be beneficial and used for the public good. Sometimes robberies or criminal assaults may occur in the neighborhood, and the police may ask you if you have security footage of your house or street. This would be extremely helpful for them to identify the perpetrators or arrange for an undercover investigation to catch them in the act.

Your doorbell camera or video surveillance system can record illegal misconduct in the middle of the night, which can help the police identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. In addition, recording accidents or crimes is helpful in most civil lawsuits and prosecutions – according to one legal expert, many cases are won or lost based on footage from nearby cameras. Therefore, video surveillance can be useful alongside its original purpose.

These are some of the good things you can do with a video camera. But which of these scenarios can be achieved through legal means?

The general rule is that you can do whatever you want on your own property. Installing the doorbell/security system, flying a drone to check for damage on your roof, and installing a listening device in your bedroom to catch a cheating partner are all legal in your own home. Even hiding a nanny cam in your child’s bedroom to make sure you have hired an honest nanny or babysitter who treats your child well is perfectly legal.

But the moment you point your camera or phone at someone else’s private room, you may be breaking the law.

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In more public places, the standard of “reasonable expectation of privacy” will apply. In other words, you can record videos of people in open, public places like a park, a parking lot, or even in a restaurant where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy – visiting a restaurant or shopping mall is implicitly a public, not a private, outing.

However, video recording is not allowed in places such as hotel rooms, toilets and changing rooms. It is expected that privacy is maintained in these places, so cameras are not allowed.

And just in case you think you could circumvent this law with an audio recorder, think again. Audio recording is indeed subject to stricter laws than silent video recording, so be careful. Surveillance laws can also vary from state to state, so it’s always a good idea to consult a professional in your particular state if you have questions about the legality of the law.

Every time you make video or audio recordings, things can get tricky. If you are not absolutely sure if what you are doing is legal, it is better to hire a private investigator who is familiar with the specific video and audio surveillance laws of your state.

As Manhattan private investigator Darrin Giglio says: “Private investigators know the laws in their state. We know how to conduct video surveillance in a way that makes it safe and legal to use”.

Hiring an investigator not only saves you the legal hassle, it can help you achieve your original goals without having to become an amateur detective yourself. If the problem is big enough that you have considered surveillance, then hiring a professional might be the best move of all.

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