You hire a sitter to take care of the kids while you go out for the evening. You switch on your nanny cam so that you can keep an eye on things while you’re away. Is that legal? Do you have to let your babysitter know that they’re being recorded? It depends on where you live and what you’re recording.

Texas Nanny Cam Laws

If you live in Texas, feel free to hide a security camera and record or stream what’s going on in your home while you’re not there. It’s your house, and you make the rules when it comes to this. There’s no requirement to disclose to anyone in your home that there are hidden surveillance cameras.

Things might be different if you’re in another state.

All States Permit Hidden Nanny Cams

All 50 states actually allow hidden nanny cams. Why? It’s easy to understand why you might want to be a fly on the wall when you’re not home. You might want to know who’s responsible if something gets stolen. If someone is watching your kids, you’ll want evidence if there’s abuse or any unsavory behavior.

Statistically speaking, babysitters commit relatively few crimes against young children. In fact, one study revealed that babysitters are responsible for less than five percent of child abuse crimes. However, the crimes they do commit tend to be really serious. Physical assaults and sexual abuse account for a large part of babysitter-on-child crime. If your child is at risk, you’ll want to know about it right away so that you can intervene.

Things Can Get Complicated If You Want to Record Sound

Even though hidden cameras are permitted across the nation, some states do impose certain limitations. Most of these restrictions have to do with recording sound. Why? Some states are known as “two-party consent” states. If something is being recorded, that must be disclosed to all parties involved. These laws extend to hidden security cameras or recording devices. Today, a lot of the nanny cams on the market are capable of streaming (and/or recording) images and sound.

If you live in one of the following states, you have to disclose the fact that you’re recording sound:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania, and
  • Washington.

In fact, these laws apply to you even if you’re just visiting. Let’s say you live in Texas – which doesn’t have a sound restriction – and you relocate to Florida part-time for work. You bring your children with you and hire someone to watch them in your rented apartment while you’re at work. If you brought a nanny cam from home that records sound, you have to tell that sitter that it’s there.

Some States Limit Where Hidden Nanny Cams Can Be Located

There are certain parts of a home – whether you live there or not – where there’s a certain expectation of privacy. For example, if you go to the bathroom, you’d probably expect to be entirely alone. Some states prohibit homeowners from installing hidden cameras in these particularly sensitive parts of a home.

The prohibition might not just apply to bathrooms. Do you have a live-in nanny or maid? Their room or living quarters could be off-limits, too. If a babysitter or guest would expect to have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” it could be a violation of their rights to record them in that particular part of your home.

What Happens If a Homeowner Records a Babysitter In Violation of the Law?

It would ultimately depend on the state where the violation happened. It would also depend on what was recorded, and where. Generally speaking, breaking the law will subject you to the possibility of criminal charges. There’s also the potential for a civil personal injury lawsuit. A person who is recorded in violation of the law could file a lawsuit and seek compensation for damages, such as emotional distress or suffering.

There are good reasons to record your home when you’re not there. However, it’s important to consider the laws of the state you live in – or are currently present – if you plan on recording your guests. There could be serious repercussions if you don’t. For more information, call Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP today.