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Q&A: How Much Warning is Needed for Security Cameras?

Q. I own a condo in Massachusetts. I have installed security cameras inside my unit.  The condo association has signs stating that the property has security cameras.  Do I also need to put a sign on my condo (door, window, etc.), stating that I have a security system?

                                —Watchful Owner

A. “In Massachusetts, sound may not be recorded without permission. So, as a first step, the unit owner should make sure that there is only recording of the visual,” says Gary M. Daddario, a partner in Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, PC, with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  “Next, Massachusetts applies legal protection to ‘privacy’ in situations in which there is a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’.  If the security cameras are aimed at a public area like the lawn or street or parking lot, then people probably do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy to enforce. That said, sometimes a security camera sign can also have the benefit of curbing bad behavior. 

“Owners in different states may very well want to speak with an individual attorney in each state, since the states can differ as to law. Further, as always, the unit owner will need to make sure that any action undertaken does not violate the associations’ governing documents.” 

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