Beware of Cameras that Record Audio
| Posted in best landlord practices, Did you know?, News - 17 Comments.
2017: New cameras like the Ring doorbell app may not be compliant with Massachusetts law.
Popular doorbell app “Ring” allows you to answer your door even when you aren’t home. You simply install a small electronic doorbell, camera, and speaker by your front door. When a visitor pushes this new doorbell, it calls your phone. You can video chat with your guest like magic!
Ring also offers a monthly subscription that records and saves video 24-7. This is a great feature! You can review trespassers, see who delivered your package, and maybe even see who took a package! Unfortunately, this recording feature is not compliant with Mass Law. Under MGL Ch 272 Section 99, you cannot record audio without all parties consenting. Ring records audio of passers-by, and there is no way to collect consent from each passer-by.
A member asked Ring if it was possible to disable the audio recording feature, but to still have video. Ring did not respond affirmatively. You can use Ring, but you cannot use the recording feature without breaking the law.
Under Mass law, can you record video only? Generally, yes. If you had a camera system that recorded video only, you could probably save the video. It depends on whether there was an expectation of privacy.
If the camera is pointed into a public space like a driveway opening onto a street, there is "no expectation of privacy" so recording is generally permissible. In Worcester, for instance, there are now many private street and driveway cameras. Some catch glimpses of neighbor’s yards. Anyone facing the street is essentially “in public,” even if on private property, as far as privacy law is concerned.
Unlike streets, bathrooms and private gardens do come with an “expectation of privacy.” Recording here is generally not allowed.
When in doubt, talk with an attorney, or don’t make recordings.
Members can post on our message boards for system and setting recommendations.
17 Responses to Beware of Cameras that Record Audio
Maybe the law should be changed.
My employer put one of these cameras in our place of business. We already have video surveillance. Isn’t this hughley illegal?
It’s privacy law, that’ll hardly be changed. That same law is meant to prohibit law phone and wire tapping as well…
@Lori Nixon – Yes, unless all parties have consented to audio recording, that is illegal.
My neighboro installed a ring 2 outside my bedroom windows an my patio this is out back no street my area only ..have filed with police an have asked her to remove motion lights an camera. 2months an still up what else can I do..Cannot open my curtain as it captures my windows
Hi so my kids dad put a ring doorbell speaker in my kitchen . Is he able to hear my personal conversations with family?
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Can the audio be played back as well as the video?? In other words , does this device save audio and can it be replayed??
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This article is factually incorrect. In MA it is only Illegal to secretly record. “Notice” is all that is required not “permission”. As long as you post notice, people are able to decide if they will or will not speak. Similar to trespass laws, you don’t have to prove that they saw the notice just that it was posted.
This article is relevant to a similar problem that I am experiencing.