Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Recording audio and the law

Whilst touring the ISC floor, I happened across the Louroe Electronics booth. (In fairness, I happen to be a long time and loyal customer, having used their venerable Verifact C microphones for almost a decade.)

I can't even begin to count the times that I've come across a CCTV installation that contained microphones in retail spaces, done without the requisite legal notices. Louroe takes the legal notification requirements very seriously.

United States Codes, Title 18, Section 2510 (2) states:
Oral communication means any "oral communication" uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation.

By definition of the code section, a person cannot have an expectation of privacy, nor can he or she expect that communication will not be intercepted, if there are public signs posted, indicating that the communication is being monitored.

The First Amendment of the Constitution provides that any conversation between individuals is private, unless otherwise notified. In simple terms, this means that any overhearing or recording of a conversation is illegal ...unless both parties are aware that it is being done.

In order to comply with the law, LOUROE ELECTRONICS provides a disclaimer stating, AUDIO MONITORING ON THE PREMISES. These disclaimers must be affixed, in plain view, to all entrances where the microphones are installed.

It is suggested that distributors notify customers, at the time of installation (or sale) of the equipment, that disclaimers must be in plain view at all entrances and exits.

In that some state laws may vary, it is further suggested that you consult with your local attorney, and become fully aware of the local laws in this regard.

Federal Law References:
Federal Regulations, US Code, Title 18. Crime and Criminal Procedure, Sec 2510. (borrowed from the Louroe web site)

I like it when companies take their responsibilities seriously. When they do, they deserve a little extra recognition. It's important to realise that just because you can install microphones and listen in to your employees conversations doesn't mean that you should. If you do, you must understand the law as it pertains to these types of installations. Store owners have the added responsibility of letting their employees know that they whilst they are listening, they aren't "eavesdropping" on the employees private conversations - that they mics are just there to handle "business problems."


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