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Surveillance System Laws for Businesses & Property Owners


A security camera

It’s easy to spot security cameras everywhere you go, from grocery stores to bus stops to business entrances. But have you stopped to think about the legal limitations of surveillance systems? For instance, is it illegal to install cameras in certain places? What about making audio recordings?

If you own a business or commercial property in Arizona, rest assured that you have the right to install surveillance cameras, just with a few restrictions. Explore the legality of surveillance systems for businesses and property owners here.

Federal Video Surveillance Laws

The overarching rule in the U.S. is that anyone is allowed to record surveillance footage in public as long as there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, it is illegal to record video or audio for the sole purpose of blackmail or other malicious intent.

The places where people expect complete privacy, and therefore where surveillance cameras are not permitted, include:

  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Shower areas
  • Locker rooms
  • Changing or fitting rooms
  • Hotel rooms

Be aware that state and county laws regarding security cameras, audio recording, and privacy matters may differ. Before proceeding with any installation plans, check all relevant jurisdictions to ensure you’re within legal territory.

Audio Recording vs. Video Surveillance Laws

Privacy laws treat audio and video recordings differently. For instance, it’s generally legal to record video footage inside or around a commercial building using hidden cameras without asking for consent from the people you’re recording.

However, audio recording is more restricted due to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. This law imposes civil and criminal liabilities for intentionally recording communications, with the exception of job-related conversations.

Nearly every state has additional restrictions on audio recording. For instance, in Arizona, you need the consent of at least one person involved in or present during the communication to make an audio recording. Arizona also allows telephone conversations to be taped without consent or notice but only by the person who orders and pays for service to that phone number.

Workplace Surveillance Laws

Business owners are obligated to protect their personnel and property, so many of them install monitoring systems to increase security and safety. For instance, having video surveillance in public view areas — such as transaction points, store entrances, and shelves where goods are sold — can help prevent break-ins, theft, violence, and inappropriate employee conduct.

However, as outlined above, video and audio surveillance without notification is illegal anywhere there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy. Even if you provide notice of surveillance cameras in privacy-protected areas, be careful how you use the collected data. Also, refrain from making audio recordings without informing your employees.

If you have questions about these workplace surveillance laws, seek legal advice from an attorney or the state department of labor.

Security Camera Laws in Rental Properties

If you are a landlord or commercial property manager concerned about security or tenant behavior, you may hope to install security cameras around your property. While you have the right to do so, some limitations apply. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • All cameras must be visible.
  • Tenants must be informed of the location of all security cameras on the property and provide their consent.
  • Cameras may record footage from neighboring front yards and other areas in clear and open view of the public.
  • Cameras may not peek inside a neighboring property or collect footage from a partially or totally hidden backyard.
  • Surveillance is not allowed in private indoor areas such as bedrooms or bathrooms.

Install a Custom Security System in Arizona

By understanding the surveillance system laws that apply to businesses and property owners, you can ensure your security system doesn’t infringe on other people’s rights or increase your liability. The best way to maximize your monitoring efforts is to work with Corporate Technology Solutions. We install commercial-grade security systems in Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, and Flagstaff, AZ. Whether you want video surveillance, intrusion detection, access control, or a combination of solutions, we can meet your needs.

Contact us at (877) 685-2626 to learn more about installing or upgrading the security system in your Arizona business or property.

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