Surveillance cameras are a great way to help protect your property or workplace, but they can cause you to infringe upon government regulations. Get safe advice from the security professionals at Jay360 to help you make government-compliant security choices. In this article, we look at how to best protect home security systems owners from breaking the law along with tips to making the most of your security system legally. Residents can also use this page to understand their rights as a neighbour and what is excessive monitoring that can be reported for privacy violations.
Note: If a neighbour has a camera pointing and recording footage of your yard, and you do not want them videotaping you, you should contact a lawyer. We here at Jay 360 do not provide legal advice regarding this issue.
Why is it Important to know the Laws on Surveillance
Knowing the laws on surveillance can help you make the right security investments, reduce confrontation with others in the community, and also educate you about your privacy rights. In some jurisdictions, residents may be installing video surveillance for naught as it is illegal to use video recording devices for residents. The main reason to know the laws is to avoid conflicts with neighbours.Although there have been few prosecutions in video surveillance, knowing the facts can help you address questions your neighbours may have. Court litigations can be costly and though some jurisdictions make it less apparent what is proper and improper use, having the most background will surely help a property owner looking to increase their security profile. Collecting personal video or audio of another person without expressed consent is prohibited.
Here is a video to get an overview of the Canadian security surveillance landscape and where it may be heading:
Surveillance Camera FAQ
Q: Can my employer set up a hidden camera to watch me and other employees?
Though there is not a perfectly clear answer to this question, the Canadian courts have generally not ruled in favour of employers who set up hidden cameras without valid reason. Therefore, in most cases it is usually best to make employees aware of surveillance cameras. (source)
Q: Can I set up audio surveillance along with my video surveillance?
No. In Canada, surveillance cameras in the workplace are not allowed to have an audio component. Did you know that recording private communications without consent is a criminal offence? Therefore, in compliance with the law, stick with video only surveillance cameras. (source)
Q: What happens if criminal activity occurred in a private area but was caught on surveillance cameras?
In some cases, personal privacy is more important than captured criminal footage. This means that if an employee felt their privacy was violated and had a good reason to feel this way (privacy was assured), the footage may be dismissed from court. (source)
What does the Government say about Surveillance Camera Laws
Technology evolves very quickly, often times leaving in its dust the regulatory authorities and governance groups tackling the many ramifications of changes. Canadian lawmakers will continue to debate and alter policies to meet the needs of residents, but here is what we know so far about the law today.
- Video Surveillance used for Criminal Prosecutions – recent video surveillance footage can be used in legal proceedings for witnesses or victims who were under 18 years at the time of offense (source).
- Evidence from victim or witnesses who has a disability – video recording which are recent can also be used for these types of legal proceedings (source).
- Cameras are to be pointed at owner’s property – certain bylaws like the one in Hamilton, Ontario, specify this requirement for the sake of neighbour’s privacy (source).
- London prohibits use of surveillance cameras – the city of London, Ontario, does not allow for the use of excessive enforcement like video cameras (source).
- Guidelines for surveillance cameras in the private sector (source).
Our next section looks at tips on how to keep the neighbourhood peace as you protect your property with video surveillance.
Things to Consider Doing to Ensure Everyone’s Privacy is Protected
In a shared community environment, the privacy of all residents should be considered as part of a security system installation. The following are some quick tips on how to deploy your surveillance system in your community with the right engagement while minimizing complaints!
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- Think community safety – starting a discussion on community safety may help other neighbours create consensus on video monitoring. A system is better than a silo, meaning if your neighbours also want to help by using their own system this can offer better coverage than one home’s video cameras could provide.
- Ensure comfort with surrounding neighbours – having an honest conversation with your neighbours can help you discuss their comfort level with you adding a security camera to your property. You may even gain an extra pair of eyes to help you watch your property!
- Using dummy security cameras – one-way residents are staying on the right side of the law is by using dummy cameras. Though this is not recommended by the team, clients are given all the options to make an informed decision.
- Demonstrate no harm intent – document your installation and practices to provide city officials evidence that you weren’t out to infringe on people’s properties. This can include logs, periodic checks that camera positioning is away from other properties, and consultations with neighbours.
- Offer footage to neighbours – some perpetrators of crime may use adjacent properties to enter a victim’s residence. Offer up this footage to try and help your neighbours so that they know you have a vested interest in the community and their well-being.
- Addressing your privacy concerns – if you feel a neighbour may be infringing on your home privacy, be sure to discuss with the owner of the video camera, as this may be a quicker resolution than filing a complaint with your local city.
- Contact your local city or bylaw advisors – ensure you are on the right side of the law, this shows care and due diligence on your part so you can’t be faulted. Check for contact information in general inquiries and complaint filing sections.
Jay360: the Fastest, Easiest Way to Install Bylaw-Compliant Security systems
Jay 360 looks at helping you position your security system not only for an optimized security profile, but also for bylaw compliance.
Ensure you have the right tools for the job and when safeguarding your premise with the right security advisor for peace of mind and privacy.
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