July 17, 2014 5:28 pm
Updated: July 17, 2014 5:44 pm

Why it might be illegal to install a hidden camera in your home

TORONTO – Being the owner or tenant of a home or business does not give you carte blanche to install and record with hidden cameras.

There are strict rules in place to protect the personal privacy of others according to Jeffrey Kaufman, lawyer and Co-Director of the National Privacy Practice at Fasken Martineau LLP.

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“In the workplace if you think there is suspected misconduct you can have limited surveillance, but that means you need to make sure you don’t keep the video recording for long and not do it in any intrusive location, such as a washroom.”

Notifications (signs) are also required to alert members of the public they may be recorded.

“I’m often paranoid. Everywhere I go I wonder if there is a camera watching me,” says Michael who was visiting Toronto from Vancouver and walking near Bay Street Thursday, where he spotted at least one camera at the intersection recording pedestrian traffic.

Cameras have become cheaper, smaller and easier to install and use. As a result, their usage has become more widespread.

“They said their father was monitoring their nanny when they were young, now they’re doing the same to their nanny,” says Ursula Lebana, owner of Spytech.

She’s been in the business of hidden cameras for 23 years and has noticed a 10 to 15 per cent increase in interest over the past five years.

“You can monitor it (the camera) from the internet anywhere in the world. You can check on your home and business.”

Thanks to the ubiquity of Wi-Fi, cameras can be monitored in real time through mobile phones, tablets and laptops. But installing these hidden recording devices within your home, whether you’re a tenant or owner, must follow the same rules as businesses.

“If you come to my home and use my washroom, would you think it’s reasonable for me to have a camera in the washroom? I don’t think so,” says Kaufman who added that even popular “nanny cams” should come with an advisory of some sort and used specifically for the purpose of child protection.

 

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