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Is My Nanny Cam Legal?

May 27, 2008
Like many parents, you may be considering a hidden or covert camera to record the interaction and behavior of your babysitter and your children while you're away. As you can see these so-called nanny cams or spy cams can be hidden in a variety of household objects and record activity without even a glimmer of suspicion on the part of your child care provider.

But is it legal? Are you risking criminal charges or a civil lawsuit by taping your sitter? The answer is yes, your nanny cam in most instances is perfectly legal. There are a few details which should be brought to your attention and discussed with an attorney licensed in your state if you have additional questions.

Visible video cameras (not hidden in any way) are generally not illegal if they are in a non-private place like the kitchen or living areas of your home. If the camera records sound as well as video, you must comply with federal and state wiretapping and eavesdropping laws. You will need consent of one or all parties to any recorded conversation, depending on your jurisdiction. Most states will allow you, the parent, to consent to the recording on behalf of your minor child. You will need to check on audio recording laws for more information about the necessary consent to an audio recording.

Hidden cameras (often referred to in the media as nanny cams or spy cams) are still usually okay from a legal point of view, unless the babysitter has a reasonable expectation of privacy. There is a federal law which makes it a crime to secretly capture photo or video images of people in places and situations in which they have an expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, hotel rooms and tanning salons. Most states now have similar laws. So, you definitely can't record the nanny in the bathroom and probably not in her bedroom if she lives in with your family.

Most experts agree that you shouldn't wait until you suspect some sort of abuse or neglect of your child before getting a nanny cam. If you install one before the nanny is hired and inform her that she may be monitored, your nanny cam may act as a deterrent to misconduct or abuse instead of an investigative tool. In fact, many nannies have no problem with nanny camera monitoring as long as they know about it or at least about the possibility that it is there. They often are offended however by secret, hidden cameras.

So, at the end of the day, you will need to balance the legal and ethical issues related to nanny cam recording. Reasonable video surveillance, especially if done without sound, is legal in every state as long as you stay out of the bathroom and the bedroom. Now you've just got to decide whether or not to disclose the existence and/or location of the camera to the babysitter before you switch it on.
About the Author
The Author Sharon M was a teacher for over 30 years. She is dedicated to helping protect our children and families. You can find more information on Nanny Cams and Surveillance Equipment by visiting A1-HiddenCamera.com
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