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Issues to Consider Prior to Installing Security Cameras on the Common Areas – Part I

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Many associations now install security cameras on the common areas to guarantee video evidence of any intentional vandalism or negligent actions which result in damage to the common areas, such as a vehicle running into the gate of a gated community. Some association want to install  security cameras as a way of deterring criminal acts or violations of the governing documents.

Florida law does not prohibit video surveillance of the common areas. However, both State and Federal laws prohibit audio cameras in certain circumstances.

Florida law makes it illegal to intentionally intercept oral communications through the use of a device if one does not have the prior consent of all parties. This is commonly referred to as wiretapping.  Florida’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law which makes it a crime to intercept or record a “wire, oral, or electronic communication” unless all parties to the communication consent.

However, there is an exception for in-person communications when the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation, such as when they are engaged in conversation in a public place where they might reasonably be overheard.  Arguably, this exception applies to the security cameras installed on the common areas. However, the best and safest approach would be to only install security cameras with video and without audio.

Further, while video security cameras are not prohibited, such video security cameras should be pointed in the direction of the common areas and should avoid individual units or lots. Section 810.14, Florida Statutes, prohibits anyone from looking into a person’s house, structure, or conveyance or from looking at a person’s intimate areas that are protected by clothing from the public view. This is referred to a video voyeurism and is a criminal offense. Florida’s Video Voyeurism law is not violated if the video camera is

  1. recording the non-private common areas,
  2. not recording inside any dwelling/unit or even a motor vehicle, and
  3. not recording in portions of the common areas where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy or might be expected to be in a state of undress (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.).

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