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A Primer on Objective Expectation of Privacy Vis-a-Vis Surveillance Gear Like Micro Video Cameras

Jul 27, 2008
Before you go about applying your sleuthing skills and surveillance system to spying on your spouse, or somebody else for that matter, you have to educate yourself on the legal implications. You certainly want to avoid serving sentence!

Here are the basic things you need to know about using surveillance gears like micro video cameras vis-a-vis objective expectation of privacy.


In layman's terms, the term "objective expectation of privacy" pertains to a reasonable expectation that what you do or say will not be seen or heard by another person. At present, it is recognized by informal societal rules and formal legal laws.

This is a very important consideration in installing micro video cameras for surveillance purposes. At any time the person under surveillance can expect reasonable expectation of privacy, you have to stop taking covert photos and videos. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time.

Criteria When Not to Expect

There are four criteria in determining reasonable expectation of privacy. First, general legal principles state that reasonable expectation of privacy is not present when the behaviors and the communications under scrutiny were deliberately and consciously open to public view. Thus, the use of micro video cameras mounted on toy helicopters as surveillance equipment can still be legal even if the person under surveillance is hiding in a cabin deep in the woods.

Second, vantage point pertains to the place where you will take videos. Reasonable expectation of privacy is not present when a place exists from which anybody can see or hear the events. This is the plain view principle. Thus, if you carry micro video cameras in a public place where people can see or hear the person you are following, then that person is not protected by reasonable expectation of privacy.

Third, certain buildings and pieces of land do not afford anybody reasonable expectation of privacy. If there are micro video cameras in automobile thoroughfares and national forests, then these are perfectly legal. However, public phone booths, rock concerts, sports arenas, and public restrooms are off-limits to surveillance equipment. If you are in these places, turn off your surveillance gears lest you violate the law.

Fourth, technological innovations continue to push the boundaries of situations and places where reasonable expectation of privacy can be allowed. Indeed, micro video cameras and the rest of surveillance gears benefiting from nanotechnology have created vantage points where there were previously none and situations calling for adjustments in our understanding of the Fourth Amendment. Ask your lawyer for specific rulings.


Your residence is a place where you can expect objective expectation of privacy; however, beware since garbage cans outside your home cannot be covered by the principle. Public places designed to guarantee privacy such as private portions of a jail and public phone booths, among others mentioned above, are also off-limits to surveillance.

However, monitoring your house and installing nanny cams in common areas around the house is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment if you installed them yourself. Just be careful that you do not use these covert cameras to spy on your nanny's toilet habits and bedroom activities!

If you are determined to spy on somebody, then the best advice is to consult a lawyer or a private detective about your plans. You have to avoid situations that will result in your violation of the law, the principle of reasonable expectation of privacy just a small part of it. Or better yet, just hire the private investigator and save yourself the time and effort!
About the Author
If you need more useful information on the applications of various types of nanny cameras like wireless nanny cameras, then you have to check out Video-Surveillance-Guide.com today. You can purchase micro video cameras from the site.
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