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Security Camera Laws in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know Now



The chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Pennsylvania is 1 in 296. And businesses are not exempt from falling prey of theft, crimes against property, and vandalism. In fact, some of the most common attacks against commercial organizations are unauthorized access, stealing or damaging business property and equipment, and workplace violence.

The elevated risk of crime can be severely mitigated with the adequate implementation of physical security technologies. The goal is to create a safer environment, prevent the loss of resources, and reduce the chances of attempted malicious activity.

Physical security or the utilization of physical deterrents, access control, and video surveillance can ensure people and assets are safe from potential internal and external threats. It is recommended that several solutions are strategically placed in layers, from the perimeter to the most vulnerable areas inside the site, in an effort to harden the environment and prevent penetration.

Video surveillance benefits

A must-have solution to incorporate in your business is video surveillance. Consistent monitoring of your site increases the sense of security, which leads to peace of mind to you, your employees, and visitors, in addition to improving productivity and reducing theft.

Nevertheless, it is critical to go beyond installing a few cameras randomly, and instead be strategic about implementation, as well as follow the rules and regulations in your State to avoid expensive fines and penalties.

PA video surveillance laws in the workplace

Installing cameras is legal in the Keystone State as long as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in that location, for example in entrances and parking lots. However, they should be avoided in nonpublic areas, such as restrooms, break rooms, and other places where employees might expect a degree of privacy.

Placing cameras or other recording devices in private areas can result in criminal charges, including invasion of privacy and stalking, which can result in harsh penalties.

Moreover, employers with unionized workforces will need to be sure that any surveillance program or policy complies with the National Labor Relations Act.

  1. Install non-hidden methods of surveillance in public areas.
  2. Post signage indicating that cameras are in use and recording.
  3. Inform employees of recording methods, camera locations, and footage storage policies.
Audio Surveillance in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Wiretap Law dictates that PA is a two-party consent state, which means that ALL parties must consent to be recorded. Intercepting oral communication by use of a video camera is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by substantial time in prison.

Therefore it is illegal to record private conversations without the consent of ALL parties taking part in the discussion. In general, regardless of the setting, since it is a criminal offense to record audio without the permission of every person being recorded, it is best to avoid audio at all times.

Interestingly, the Wiretap Act does not prohibit the surreptitious interception of private communications, so long as that interception is accomplished using a telephone rather than some other “device.”

However, in light of the evolving technological advances of the modern-day smartphone, the use of a smartphone app constitutes the illegal use of an “electronic, mechanical, or other device” rather than the use of a “telephone” permitted by the exception to the wiretapping law.

In short, without explicit consent from all the participants, an audio recording is illegal. This is true whether the conversation is captured on surveillance video, a tape recorder, or a smartphone app.

In order to get around state wiretap laws, some organizations opt to employ smart cameras with sophisticated capabilities, but which do not capture audio recording. Yet, decision-makers must be cognizant of state laws that govern such recordings to ensure compliance.

As Pennsylvania has some of the toughest video surveillance laws in the United States, it is recommended to explicitly notify employees about the use and placement of workplace cameras, only install them in public areas with no reasonable expectation of privacy, and avoid audio recording.

Interfering with employees' rights

Employees have the right to unionize, to join together to advance their interests as employees and to refrain from such activity. Thus, it is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.

As a leader, make sure that the topic of video surveillance and its specifics are addressed as part of the collective bargaining process for unionized labor forces.

Professional security integrator

Fully licensed contractors, like Security 101, carry liability insurance and warranty on all installations. This is important to abide by Pennsylvania law.

A licensed contractor ensures:

  1. Knowledgeable installation with proper camera placement to keep your organization protected and compliant in Pennsylvania.
  2. Safe installation to protect against electrical issues and camera failure.
  3. Recourse through your state licensing entity, if the installer does a poor job.
  4. Protection against scammers, fraud, and criminals who use security camera installation as a cover.
Lawful use of video and audio surveillance

Efficient monitoring is important to protect your employees, tenants, and property. Despite that, it is equally necessary to comply with Pennsylvania video and audio surveillance laws in order to avoid penalties and expensive liabilities.

To ensure your organization is abiding by the law, closely collaborate with an expert security professional, competent in protecting businesses with sophisticated video surveillance technologies and who knows in depth the specific laws and regulations at state and local levels in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, or Erie.

Don't risk legal repercussions

Reach out to us now and schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable professionals. We will help you navigate the complex landscape of video surveillance laws effortlessly. Your business deserves the best protection!