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16 days of security

We’re 1/2 way through our 31 days of security posts in honor of the October Cyber security awareness month.

Today we live in a world where recording devices are ubiquitous.  There are recording devices on public streets, recording devices in the door bells of houses, and in general, there is often a video recording that Authorities can obtain to gain more information.  California has a law that states….

California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632. The statute applies to “confidential communications” — i.e., conversations in which one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation. See Flanagan v. Flanagan, 41 P.3d 575, 576-77, 578-82 (Cal. 2002).  A California appellate court has ruled that this statute applies to the use of hidden video cameras to record conversations as well. See California v. Gibbons, 215 Cal. App. 3d 1204 (Cal Ct. App. 1989).

If you are recording someone without their knowledge in a public or semi-public place like a street or restaurant, the person whom you’re recording may or may not have “an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation,” and the reasonableness of the expectation would depend on the particular factual circumstances.  Therefore, you cannot necessarily assume that you are in the clear simply because you are in a public place.

If you are operating in California, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any conversation that common sense tells you might be “private” or “confidential.” In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the California wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party.

If you have security cameras in a location where there is no expectation of privacy – out in the street in front of your house – you would not be under a wiretapping law.  However if your security cameras are inside your house, there is an expectation of privacy and thus wiretapping laws would come into play.  Now let’s layer on how some of these video cameras have less than stellar security and now layer on the ability to search for such internet of things devices through a specially crafted search browser, it’s no wonder that we’re all a bit paranoid these days.  Make no mistake, video cameras often help law enforcement put evidence together.  Case in point a local homicide in my City was able to spot an assailant’s truck in several videos captured by surrounding homes and businesses and was able to use the video as additional evidence of proof that the assailant was in the area where the homicide occurred.  So video capturing helps a great deal.  BUT… as with all technology – it can be abused both in terms of privacy and as well as being used by attackers.

If you set up a home video camera consider the vendor security features:  Make sure it doesn’t have embedded passwords, demands complex passwords, can be updated relatively easily among other things.

Cameras can help make you safer, but they can also introduce security risks as well.  Be aware of both when you install a video camera in your house.  If you have a camera or security system, ensure that you place the stickers on the windows which inform those entering your home that they just might be recorded.

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