Security cameras can be an effective means of security for your home or business. With so many relatively inexpensive systems accessible from a smartphone, many homeowners are turning to security cameras to keep their property and their loved ones safe. Generally, Florida doesn't restrict security cameras as long as you provide notice of their existence and keep them out of places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
The Florida law that regulates security cameras is a criminal statute prohibiting video voyeurism. To this end, it prohibits cameras in private places, such as a bathroom, dressing room, or hotel room. Generally, these are places where people should normally feel comfortable disrobing. For example, if you own a clothing boutique, you can't place security cameras so that they have a view inside the changing rooms.
The same rule applies in your own home. While it's legal to place security cameras on your own property, placing cameras in a bathroom or a bedroom that is shared with others is likely to be a crime. You'll be in violation of the video voyeurism laws statute if you record anyone, such as a nanny, who has a reasonable expectation of privacy in those areas of your home.
In addition to avoiding private places, Florida law recognizes that people have the right to know when they're being filmed. Accordingly, you should place the cameras where they can clearly and obviously be seen by anyone who enters your property.
If your cameras are hidden or not obvious, you can get away with a sign that clearly states that the property is under video surveillance. The sign itself must be clear and obvious to anyone who enters your property.
Installed by a Licensed Contractor
There are many security systems available that you can order online and install yourself. If you're also monitoring the system yourself, this shouldn't be any problem. However, if a security company will be monitoring or servicing your system, you need to get a licensed contractor to install the system for you. Additionally, if you're getting a security system to monitor your business, Florida law requires you to have it installed by a licensed contractor.
Florida law protects you by requiring contractors to complete continuing education courses and carry liability and property insurance coverage. Licensed contractors also undergo thorough background checks.
Limitations for Condo Owners
Condominiums are big business in Florida, and many condominium owners are concerned about both security and privacy. If you live in your condo, you can place cameras anywhere you want inside. The condo is your private property. However, you may run into problems with the video voyeurism law if you rent out your condo to others.
You'll need permission from your condominium association if you want to place cameras on the exterior so that they record activity in common areas, or that have a view of a neighbor's patio or balcony.
Records Exempt From Public Disclosure
Florida's sunshine law provides the public with a right of access to all state and local government records, including video surveillance footage. This right of access extends to private individuals or businesses acting on behalf of the government, and covers all public property and public buildings.
However, according to the State Attorney General, security camera recordings are considered confidential and not subject to this right of access. Likewise, any information regarding the schematics, design, and operation of the security system in public areas is exempt from the sunshine law.
Under Florida law, security cameras are free from restriction as long as people have notice of their existence. You can generally place them anywhere except in places, such as a bathroom or changing room, where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
- The 2017 Florida Statutes: 810.145 Video Voyeurism
- Florida Office of the Attorney General: Advisory Legal Opinion: Security Systems – Video Tapes – Public Records
- South Florida State College Administrative Procedures: Security Video Surveillance
- Alarm Association of Florida: Things to Consider Before Buying a Security System
- About Florida Law: Security in Florida Condominiums
- The 2017 Florida Statutes: 877.26
Jennifer Mueller has a J.D. from the University of Indiana, Maurer School of Law. She has been sharing her legal knowledge on the internet since 2009. Mueller has been published in the Indiana Law Journal, and her writing appears on legal websites such as LegalZoom.