Justin Bieber and Why Jail Bathroom Surveillance Cameras Are Legal

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Mar 11, 2014

Justin Bieber urinating in a jail cell recently became international news, evidently for its entertainment value, despite the boring video clip released following a public records request:

Many questioned why the police had surveillance cameras in the bathroom. Do not bathrooms have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

We talked to the Miami Beach Police Department about why the cameras are there and found out why the police department says they are exempt from that part of Florida’s surveillance law.

Florida’s Broad Statute on Video Recording

Florida is one of 13 states that prohibits video camera recording private in places like bathrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms or where people are “exposing a sexual organ,” however the Florida statute does not apply in cases where:

  • "A written notice is conspicuously posted on the premises stating that a video surveillance system has been installed for the purpose of security”
  • “The presence of the device is clearly and immediately obvious."
  • And “law enforcement agency conducting surveillance for a law enforcement purpose.”

In the case of the Bieber video, all apply, according to the police department.

Technically the Cameras Aren’t in a 'Bathroom'

The Miami Beach police department says this video would not fall into the category of a bathroom, locker room or dressing room either.

“That is actually a temporary holding cell that just happens to have a toilet in there,” said a police department spokesperson. “It’s not a restroom per se. It’s a cell. That law doesn’t apply to jail cells. If it was an actual dedicated restroom it would. We have jail cells with urinals in them.”

The spokesman said the cameras are there because guards have to be able to see the entire cell to make sure a person doesn’t try to harm themselves or someone else. The cameras are monitored live 24/7.

He said the part of the law regarding exposed sexual organs also doesn’t apply because, “There’s also a metal divider that actually covers the private area.”

The Miami Beach PD says there have been no legal challenges to the cameras facing the urinals in its holding cells.

If not, does that also mean that bathroom cameras are fair game in Florida as long as there is signage, and there are stalls or dividers between urinals?

A Case out of Washington

There is a pending case in Washington State that deals with bathrooms in holding cells. Several women are suing the Pyallup police department for recording them while using the bathroom in holding cells. They are suing for privacy and civil rights violations. They say they had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The city attorney argues that a person doesn't have an expectation of privacy when they go to jail.

There are no dividers blocking the person from the view of the camera in the holding cells. The image below was pulled from the security system and attached to the lawsuit (the black bar was added after the fact):

Comments (30): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Silicon Valley Startup Launches People Counting As A Service on Aug 09, 2016
A Silicon Valley startup says their people counting sensor is so accurate it's free, just pay for the data. They recently raised $4M from a top VC...
Bribe Accusations By Multiple US Cities Against Taser on Jun 17, 2016
One company is dominating the body camera business - Taser. The stun gun leader aims to grow a VSaaS powerhouse and take over one of the fastest...
Security Planning For Bars And Nightclubs on Jun 16, 2016
The shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub is raising questions among entertainment venue owners, and security professionals, about how to balance...
Hitachi Crime Prediction Analytics Examined on Jun 03, 2016
Hitachi, relatively unknown in the security industry, says their forthcoming analytic software can "predict crimes before they happen". We spoke...
Police Require Problem Businesses To Get Video Surveillance on May 31, 2016
Government intrusion or smart practice? One city is requiring business that cause repeated problems to get video surveillance. In this note, we...
Americans Vastly Underestimate Being Recorded on CCTV on May 24, 2016
Americans vastly underestimate how often they are recorded on CCTV, by a factor of ~10x, based on a Google Consumer Survey study that IPVM recently...
Milestone / OnSSI OEM Agreement Analyzed and Legal Move on May 17, 2016
OnSSI has withdrawn its lawsuit from US courts, but the fight is far from done. In this note, we examine what is happening, digging into the 2009...
Hikvision Rejects Responsibility for Hacked Hikvision Cameras on May 10, 2016
After a massive number of Hikvision cameras were hacked, Hikvision has added new, and questionable legal language, declaring that Hikvision will...
Hikvision Exec Simultaneously Chinese Government Security Leader on Apr 27, 2016
New information shows a Hikvision executive is simultaneously a leader within the Chinese government national security ministry. This runs counter...
Knightscope Security Robot Examined on Apr 19, 2016
Silicon Valley is bringing us security robots, or as the startup, Knightscope, likes to call it, "Advanced Physical Security Cutting Edge Anomaly...

Most Recent Industry Reports

"WTF?!?!? Who is Brian Karas?!?" Exclaims Knightscope on Oct 21, 2016
Knightscope co-founder Stacy Stephens emailed us: He may not have intended to send it us and he probably can figure out who Brian Karas is,...
Security Consultants Speak Episode 1 - Protus3 on Oct 21, 2016
This is a first of a series of conversations with security consultants. If you are a security consultant that wants to talk and can share frank...
Sony and Samsung Breaking VBR on Oct 21, 2016
For years, users have known variable bitrate (VBR) as one thing only: bandwidth varies, compression stays the same. This is not an accident but an...
Pelco Matrix End Of Life - End Of An Era on Oct 20, 2016
Pelco Matrix switchers, once the pinnacle of large SD analog installations, are now literally impossible to build. The Matrix products were not...
Axis Video Revenue Down on Oct 20, 2016
An important milestone. Axis revenue for video products is down year over year. But Axis is now focusing on 'diversification'. In this report, we...
Worst Access Control 2016 on Oct 19, 2016
Two access control providers stood out as being the worst to work with for integrators. In this report, we analyze the answers to: "In the past...
Hacked DVRs Surge To 400,000 on Oct 19, 2016
The global internet is under attack from record breaking botnets. And it is getting worse, Mirai doubled in size in the last month. Shamefully,...
China "Unswerving Leadership Over State-Owned Enterprises" Like Hikvision on Oct 18, 2016
The PR agency of the Chinese government declared: President Xi Jinping stressed the Communist Party of China's (CPC) unswerving leadership over...
Move Aside Cisco, Axis Has A Network Switch For Integrators on Oct 18, 2016
Cisco is a common choice for network switches, including in our Favorite Network Switches survey, but now Axis is releasing a 16 port PoE+ switch...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact