Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Surveillance Photography vs. Surveillance Videography

Evidence Technology Magazine is out and has a ton of good information, as usual. There was one article that caught my eye: Surveillance Videography Using DSLR Cameras. The author does an outstanding job at explaining the various surveillance scenarios and the best approaches/gear for each situation.

Unfortunately, the author left out one important detail. If you're a privateer doing surveillance in a public space using an off the shelf DSLR, you may unknowingly be committing a felony in many jurisdictions.

In California, Penal Code Section 632 is quite clear: "632. (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment." "632 (d) Except as proof in an action or prosecution for violation of this section, no evidence obtained as a result of eavesdropping upon or recording a confidential communication in violation of this section shall be admissible in any judicial, administrative, legislative, or other proceeding."

Penal Code Section 633 is what gives the law enforcement official in California their permission to conduct audio surveillance, and an exemption to PC 632.

Other jurisdictions have similar language, as I've noted previously.

Remember, if you aren't a law enforcement official conducting an investigation and subject to your agency's policies, and you drop an open mic into a public space without consent of everyone within reach of the mic ... then you're asking for big trouble. In some areas, just using your iPhone to record you and your friends at the local pub can get you into trouble.

But, if you're a law enforcement surveillance specialist, the article is great from a gear buying standpoint.


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