Laws concerning video surveillance vary from state to state, and Hawaii has its own set of rules when it comes to the recording of other people's actions or words. Several other states share similar laws, but knowing the facts about surveillance prior to gathering the desired information is important because the method you use may be illegal in the state and therefore inadmissible in court.
Hawaii, like most states, requires consent before a video or audio recording can take place. This does not mean that every party involved in the recorded communication must necessarily know about the surveillance, but at least one must know about it and consent to the recording for it to be a legal procedure.
Eavesdropping And Privacy
Hawaii has eavesdropping and privacy statutes that require a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in which a device such as a video camera cannot be used to record actions or conversations of those who do not know they are being recorded when they are in a "private" area.
The Hawaiian law is somewhat confusing in that it prohibits the use of recording devices such as cameras in some instances, but allows them in other situations. For example, an undercover police officer could wear a portable video camera on his person to record other people they were having a conversation with, but the same officer would be committing a crime if he installed a hidden camera in the room to record the same conversation, according to The Investigators, LLC.
Video surveillance is allowed if the recording is done in a place where it is reasonable to assume others could see or hear what is going on. Video surveillance done in a shopping mall or in a public park, for example, would qualify under this exception.
However, private situations such as conversations or actions taking place in someone's home or in a hotel room are protected by law. Only a person consenting to the recording who is physically wearing the recording device and taking part in the conversation or action could legally make the recording.
The unauthorized installation of recording devices such as video cameras is a crime in Hawaii. Regardless of whether a recording ever took place, the act of installation itself is subject to punishment under the state law. This portion of the Hawaii law would make a recording illegal even if a consenting party were in the room for the conversation because the installation itself was a crime, making the images from the recording criminal as well.
Trespassing on private property for the purposes of installing a hidden recording device is a separate misdemeanor, according to the Brick House Security website.
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.