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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Is Video Surveillance of a Neighbor's Home Legal in Pa

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Pennsylvania
    There are laws covering video surveillance of others, and in PA it generally follows the "one-party consent" rule etc. I also know that there was a bill introduced at the federal level by then Senator Arlen Specter and others regarding video surveillance of a person without their consent etc. And I know that there are attempts at getting the laws up to date with technology, because most of these laws date back to the 1960s and were designed for wiretapping communications etc. They were not designed to cover the almost ubiquitous surveillance of people and their private property with the use of, now very inexpensive, video equipment. My question, specifically, is this: Can a neighbor aim video cameras at your house? The typical answer seems to be that if it is viewable "in public" then it is permissible. Would we all not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in AND AROUND our own homes? In other words, obviously if someone would have a camera inside your home somehow to watch you, without your consent, that would be illegal. But what about outside on our private property, in our driveways and garages, in our pools? Yes this is technically in the public view, but when someone can view you in public, they are in public also and you can generally see them - UNTIL NOW. Now people can hide behind their own walls and view the "public" activities of others without their consent and/or knowledge. Would this not at least be stalking or harassment? Aiming a camera at the exterior of your home is also aiming it at your doors and windows. This equipment is no longer expensive or difficult to obtain. Many of these cameras are what we call PTZ cameras because they have pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities. They can be easily controlled remotely - even from miles away using internet protocol. So as an example, when the authorities are looking at it - the stalker shows a wide, far-away image of the street - and when they leave, he pans back over to your house and zooms in and goes back to looking in your windows, and watching your kids swim in the pool. Are we just running behind in legislating this? Or is this how we are all going to live now?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    10,131

    Default Re: Is Video Surveillance of a Neighbor's Home Legal in Pa

    The Pennsylvania "one party" rule doesn't apply here. That statute only covers recording and interception of electronic and oral communications. Oral communications requires an expectation of privacy. It doesn't cover visual surveillance and in most cases things you can see from off the persons property (from the street or the next lot over) do not have an expectation of privacy.

    What you want is 18 PACS 7507.1 Invasion of Privacy. This however is pretty much a peeping tom law and requires viewing, photographiing, or videoing a person in full or partial nudity in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
    It doesn't extend to either places where there is no such expectation (outside in most cases) nor to anything that doesn't involve nudity.

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