Security Press Wrong About New NY State Video Law

Published Aug 29, 2017 12:19 PM
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SecurityInfoWatch wrongly declared: N.Y. governor signs bill outlawing video surveillance of neighbors [link no longer available]

SDM wrongly affirmed: It is now illegal to make unauthorized video surveillance recordings of a neighbor’s backyard in New York. 

The actual bill texts are here - Senate Bill S870A and Assembly Bill A861A and nothing is 'outlawed' as the overview explains:

Establishes a private right of action for owners and tenants of residential premises against persons video taping recreational activities in the backyard of such premises

NY attorney Ken Kirschenbaum corrected these views, explaining:

The law is not an outright ban on positioning cameras so that they cover some or all of a neighbors back yard. Also, it's not "illegal" which means a violation of a criminal law.  The statute gives a private right of action, a new cause of action, for the violation but does not impose any criminal penalty.The statute also requires that there be an "intent to harass...or with intent to threaten the person or property... [Read more]

Video is not 'outlawed' nor do you need general authorization from neighbors. But it does give a right for others to pursue legal recourse if they can prove that your video intends to harass or threaten them.

Related, the bill explains its motivation / justification to close a loophole for clearly immoral behavior:


Here is an example from YouTube of the type of behavior that likely would run afoul of this law (but would be extremely atypical of professional video surveillance):

If you are in New York, it is worth checking with one's attorney on the overall applicability of this new law.

While this is new to New York, many areas (especially in Europe) have strict privacy laws / guidelines that more broadly cover such concerns.

The net/net is that such a law should not have any significant impact on sensible video surveillance that is designed and setup for genuine security monitoring.

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