Proposed legislation 'would without question affect the security industry'

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04/15/2010
I was going through my most recent email newsletter from industry attorney Ken Kirschenbaum and thought the most recent item on proposed video surveillance legislation was pretty interesting. There's actually a lot of legislation news of interest to the security industry going on right now. My colleague Martha is following up on pending legislation in New York involving the limit of liability clause in most security contracts. My editor Sam has also touched on a federal rule that allows federal agencies to require that contractors working on jobs of $25 million or more be union shops. NYBFAA president Joseph Hayes cited a blog post from the New York Times that discussed recent news from Pennsylvania concerning a school that was secretly spying on students through their school-issued laptops' web cams. The school in question claimed they did this to be sure the equipment was not being misused. They claim they caught a student doing drugs. The student claims he was eating candy, not pills. Regardless of whether the school's intentions were noble and regardless of whether or not the student really was just eating Mike & Ikes and not ecstasy, the issue of import is the impact this incident may have on the security industry. Ken is pretty clear:
We are all familiar and concerned with audio interception. For the most part you know you can't install it. But video surveillance is not yet subject to widespread legislation. Other than statutes and case law that prohibits video surveillance in areas where privacy is expected restrictions are defined more by moral considerations than legal ones. By that I mean, you may be permitted to install a camera in your back yard that ends up also covering parts of your neighbor's yard, perhaps even your neighbors swimming pool or other recreational area. However, if that neighbor has a daughter who likes to swim naked that same camera may be prohibited. Legislation that prohibits video recording of another without his/her permission would without question affect the security industry. CCTV technology and the use of CCTV surveillance is one of the fastest growing areas in the alarm/security industry. Any legislation that restricts the use of CCTV will of course inhibit that growth and limit profit potential to security integrators.
I've written a number of stories recently about the uptick in interest in video, not just as specialized surveillance, but as a regular aspect of intrusion alarms as well. So the question remains, will there be new federal law on video surveillance? According to the above referenced NYT blog post:
Senator Arlen Specter, a Democrat of Pennsylvania, is proposing to amend the federal wiretap statute to prohibit visual spying that is not approved by a court in advance. Congress should move quickly to make this change.
Ken advised the industry to keep an eye on the ongoing legislation, be informed and be active.
The alarm industry needs to keep an eye on this proposed legislation to ensure that any statute to emerge does not have the same impact as the audio legislation. Joe, thanks for bringing this to our attention. By the way you can read the audio / video statutes in your state at http://www.kirschenbaumesq.com/avstatutes.htm Let me know if your state law needs to be updated on my website.
I'm interested to hear any input any of you might have.