The United States Constitution does not protect citizens from unauthorized videotaping. States are, however, permitted to pass their own laws. In Florida, anyone can use video surveillance equipment in public places to deter burglars and prevent crime. The law does not protect voyeurs who secretly film individuals where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as bedrooms, bathrooms and other places they might engage in private acts.
Video Voyeurism Laws
Video voyeurism is the act of secretly recording someone in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, for example, inside a bathroom, bedroom, hotel room or changing room. These are places where someone would normally feel comfortable removing clothing. Video voyeurism is a second-or third-degree felony in Florida punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison for repeat offenders. Perpetrators also face the possibility of a civil lawsuit leading to massive damages for invasion of privacy.
Home Security Cameras are Legal
Many Florida residents install video recording equipment outside their homes to deter burglars and monitor suspicious activity on the street. This type of video recording is perfectly legal as a crime prevention tool as long as you don't violate any laws relating to video voyeurism. It's generally recommended that you place the cameras in a visible location and point them at an area where people don't expect to have privacy, such as entrances and exits, your yard or the street. You open yourself up to criminal charges should you videotape inside your home and a visitor objects to being filmed.
Read More: Laws on Security Cameras in Florida
Surveillance in the Workplace
Florida employers may record their employees in the workplace for legitimate, work-related purposes such as preventing theft. Since video voyeurism laws also apply to workplaces, business owners must take care not to place cameras in areas where staff have a reasonable expectation of privacy – it's an absolute no-no to place cameras in the bathroom. Union activity is protected by federal law. It's a federal offense to record people engaged in union activity, and employers should make sure cameras in otherwise public work areas are switched off during meetings with union representatives.
You Can't Record Voices Without Consent
While it's generally legal to videotape someone in Florida, you are not permitted to record a conversation without the person's consent. Florida is a "two party consent" state, which means that it's illegal to record conversations unless all parties have given consent to be taped or overheard. As a home or business owner, it's best to err on the side of caution and install image-only recording devices. If your tape picks up a conversation, you might inadvertently fall foul of the state's wiretapping laws.
By Florida recording laws, it's illegal to record someone without their knowledge in an area where they have "a reasonable expectation of privacy." This includes bathrooms, fitting rooms and anywhere a person might remove their clothes.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.