Are Hidden Nanny Cams Actually Legal?

Posted on Sunday, February 7th, 2021 at 8:08 pm    

One of the hardest things for parents is entrusting the care of their children to a babysitter or nanny. Even with proper vetting, interviews, references, and background checks, parents can feel uneasy about leaving their children at home with someone who is not family.

Because of this anxiety, parents are increasingly turning to what are known as nanny cams. Nanny cams are small cameras placed in a person’s home so homeowners can keep tabs on what is happening when they aren’t there. That way if a nanny is found to be abusing a child, the parents can at the very least fire the nanny and in some cases might be able to use the footage they have captured as they pursue legal action.

There are, however, several legal implications homeowners will want to keep in mind before they decide to buy and install nanny cams in their homes.

Expectation of Privacy

With the proliferation of surveillance technology, the federal government and states have all adopted various laws and standards to govern the use of recording devices. When it comes to capturing video, it is legal to do so in your home in every state in the country, even without informing the people you are recording.

That does not mean, however, that you can put a nanny cam wherever you want. If a normal person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in a bathroom or bedroom, you could get in legal hot water if you put a nanny cam in such a place.

Obtaining Consent

If you are going to also capture audio, then there is even more you will have to consider. The federal government and many states (including Kentucky) are one-party consent states. This means that you cannot record audio unless at least one party in the “conversation” consents.

However, a significant minority of states are known as all-party consent states. In these states, you need to inform every person in the conversation and get their consent in order to record audio of them.

What if You Don’t Follow the Law?

Those who break the law relating to audio and video recording could face serious legal consequences. In some cases doing so could even get you convicted of a felony.

Skirting the law and using a nanny cam illegally could also open you up to a lawsuit. If a nanny or someone else finds out you recorded them in a way that is illegal—such as in a place where they expected privacy—civil action against you could cost you dearly.

Finally, if you do capture incriminating audio or video of your nanny abusing your child, but the recording was obtained illegally, you won’t be able to admit it to the court as evidence. In this case, you would be letting a guilty person go free because you failed to follow the law.

Using Nanny Cams Legally

The best course of action is to use a nanny cam in accordance with the law in your city or state. In some cases, in order to build trust, it might even be in your best interest to inform your nanny and others who regularly enter your home that you have recording devices set up.

Obtaining consent from your nanny and others could keep you from legal trouble and might also prevent them from harming your children or stealing in the first place. Most people would rather keep such terrible things from happening than witness them anyway.

If you do decide to use a nanny cam, or have obtained incriminating evidence with a recording device, it would be wise to consult a skilled attorney to see what your next steps should be and to go over the legal options available to you.

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