Can Others Including Law Enforcement View Without Permission
More and more homeowners are turning to video doorbells and home security cameras to better protect their property, its contents and most importantly their loved ones inside. The value of the information captured is far-reaching, providing potential evidence for police investigations. This has resulted in the creation of neighborhood-watch social networks where law enforcement agencies and neighbors with such devices share videos. So, whether it is Ring, Arlo or any of the growing number of home monitoring options, many are asking who can view the videos captured and what permission is needed to do so. When the police come knocking and ask for footage, do you have the right to say no?
The short answer, yes – you can say no and choose not to share the video capture. By denying access to your cameras, this includes the videos, personal information and live feed.
This seems relatively straightforward however there are instances where a “no” can be overruled and law enforcement is able to gain access with a search warrant, subpoena or in an imminent life-threatening emergency.
Then there are the “grey” areas – those in which homeowners post their videos on neighborhood-watch social media sites that work in partnership with the local police. In such instances this footage can be viewed but also requested and made available to help with active investigations.
Recently, Consumer Reports (CR) took an in depth look into the issue, including the how and when such requests can be made by law enforcement. Much of the article focused on Ring, one of the most popular platforms and its Neighbors Public Safety Service, which “allows police and fire departments to view videos that users post and ask camera owners to provide videos that could help with active investigations.”
To provide a bit of perspective in terms of numbers, CR found… “As of late April 2023, Ring has partnered with over 2,500 local law enforcement agencies, over 570 fire departments, and 12 local government agencies. During the fourth quarter of 2020, Ring’s partner agencies sent over 5,700 video requests.”
Without repeating all their FAQs, one of the most frequent and relevant to many who use these devices is “what are my options” if what is termed a Request for Assistance post is received. According to CR, there are four (4):
- You can share all recordings you have for that time period.
- You can review your recordings for that time period and select the recordings you’d like to share.
- You can simply ignore the post.
- You can ignore the post and opt out of all future Request for Assistance posts.
You may find the full article and FAQs here.
At Neff & Sedacca, P.C., we are committed to providing strategically-sound, aggressive defense for our clients. We also continue to constantly monitor the on-going changes in criminal law impacting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and neighboring New Jersey. If you have questions regarding your rights in such matters discussed here or any criminal legal matters, you should seek experienced legal counsel. To schedule a confidential consultation with the attorneys at Neff & Sedacca, P.C., contact the firm by phone at 215-563-9800 or email email@example.com.