Brooks Pierce attorney Will Quick recently spoke to Raleigh television station WRAL about the intersection of privacy law and home surveillance technology, particularly doorbell cameras, used by private citizens.
While most people use these types of cameras legitimately to help protect their property, with any new technology there is a risk of misuse, whether intentional or not. Quick explained the use of home surveillance cameras is generally covered by well-established privacy law that holds that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in certain places. For example, he said, homeowners should not point surveillance cameras exclusively at a neighbor’s bedroom or bathroom window because those are locations where it is reasonable to expect privacy from the public view. However, if homeowners position their camera to capture video of their own property or public places, such as streets, then capturing peripheral footage of parts of a neighbor’s property that can easily be seen by anyone passing by will not violate the law.
“If you’re a neighbor of someone who has one of these cameras and it happens to point across the street and it catches your door or your driveway, those are not places where under the law you have a reasonable expectation of privacy," Quick told WRAL. "Anyone driving by on the street could see those areas as well, so there’s really not much you can do to enforce against that happening.”
The full report is available online.