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What Are Your Cameras Catching?

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A recent class action lawsuit in U.S. federal court against Walmart alleges that video recordings the retail giant captures of its customers using the self-checkout lanes violates privacy laws.

The lead plaintiff claims in his lawsuit that his image was captured by Walmart while making credit card transactions. He alleges that this violates California law.

According to the lawsuit, Walmart’s video recording at its self-checkout kiosks captures customers’ personal identification information including their eye color, hair color and facial features.

The plaintiff contends that the technology used at Walmart’s self-checkout captures more detailed recordings than other surveillance video recordings.

The lawsuit states, “The video recording is different from standard security camera footage in that it records personal identification information on a granular level in accurate detail, and plaintiff had no means to avoid his image being recorded, as Walmart requires that each customer be recorded on this video when they utilize the self-check-out kiosk.”

In addition, the plaintiff says the details are captured not only for security purposes, but to also record the biometric information of Walmart customers.

The Walmart video recording lawsuit alleges that Walmart’s self-checkout recording violates California privacy laws, particularly a law that prohibits companies from recording credit card holder’s personal information to complete a transaction.

Now, it will be interesting to see how this case plays out in court because public places are constantly under surveillance and you have no expectation of privacy when you are in a public place.

However, what about security cameras used in residential neighborhoods? For instance, what if your neighbor’s security camera captures your whole backyard?

Or what if you install a state-of-the-art security system and one of the cameras accidentally captures a bedroom window across the street?

With that being said, I want to share with you some considerations to make sure that your surveillance system doesn’t run afoul of the law.

Placing cameras appropriately. Now, I’m a big believer in having outdoor cameras that cover your entire house and I have multiple cameras around my home.

But, use common sense with your neighbors and attempt to avoid areas such as their backyard or bedroom windows. My point is, don’t forget about areas that could be unintentionally recorded.

Be careful with audio. If you have surveillance cameras such as the ones made by Ring, they have the ability to record audio. Since some states require two party consent to record audio, make sure you know your state’s laws.

By placing signs throughout your yard or property that says video/audio recording may take place, can help reduce the liability issues.

What happens to the footage. Obviously, the point of have having security cameras is to deter criminals and to help law enforcement catch the bad guys.

So, use your footage for its intended purpose. Use it for your eyes only or for only law enforcement.

If you capture footage of your neighbor slipping and falling in the yard, I wouldn’t post it and make fun of them. Again, use common sense with the footage.

Surveillance cameras are an incredibly valuable tool that keep your home and family safe. This is why I have them around my house. But, use your cameras wisely and don’t do anything foolish them.

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