How would you feel if you find out that there are security cameras in the bathrooms, especially in public toilets? Well, the initial reaction most of us would have is a feeling of invasion of privacy.
Naturally! Imagine somebody “spying” on you while you are using the bathroom! If this is the case, you might feel uncomfortable every time you use public toilets.
However, we cannot help but wonder and ask if security cameras in bathrooms are legal. This is what we will be talking about in this article – if security cameras are allowed (or is it legal?) in bathrooms.
Is it legal to put security cameras in bathrooms?
In most cases (and places), installing security cameras in bathrooms is illegal.
The law states that the installation of security cameras is not allowed in bathrooms and other private places where people are supposed to have a certain degree of privacy.
Among these places are changing rooms, locker rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, restrooms, hotel rooms, and any other place where people might get undressed.
Violation of this may result in severe penalties on the offender. However, there is always an exception in every rule. And this rule is not exempted from that saying.
Exceptions to the Rule
Inform Others about the Existence of Security Cameras in Bathrooms with Proper Notices
In some states, employers are required to let their employees know that they plan to install security cameras in restrooms and other places and get their consent first. Informing their employees would be in the form of written notices.
Once the employees approve, that is the time they can set up such devices on the said areas.
If employees are not notified and consulted before the installation of such security cameras, the owners may face severe punishment is proven guilty of not following the law.
Security Cameras in Public Bathrooms Are Pointed at Common Areas
This is commonly applicable in schools. Violence in schools usually happens in hidden areas. That is why the school administration may set up security cameras in public bathrooms. These cameras can reduce smoking and violence in schools. Therefore keeping the students safe and secure, as much as possible.
These cameras must be stationary, though. Meaning, they cannot be moved, zoomed in or out, and angled.
Also, they must point at common areas of public bathrooms only. For instance, the wash stations. Pointing the cameras at stalls and mirrors is not allowed.
Security Cameras in our Own Bathroom
Security cameras installed in your own bathroom is an exemption to this rule.
In other words, since your home is private property, you can do whatever you want to do with it. However, if your private property has tenants, for example, apartments, or rooms for rent, then installing security cameras in bathrooms is not acceptable.
You might argue that it is private property. Well, yes. However, other people are using it. By other people, we mean your tenants and boarders.
Despite it being private property, other people other than the owner are using the said facility, hence making it kind of “public”.
How Would You Know If There Are Security Cameras in the Bathroom?
Now, this is a “fun” thing to do – finding hidden security cameras in the bathroom. Other people would probably say you are just being paranoid.
However, if you are conscious about your privacy and you are using a public bathroom, then it will not hurt to be cautious.
How would you know if there are hidden cameras in the bathroom that you are using? Well, here are some tips on how to check (and find) hidden security cameras in bathrooms.
If there are one-way mirrors in the bathroom, there is always the possibility that there is a security camera hidden behind it.
Now comes the fun part. How will you know if it is a one-way mirror?
There is a trick to it. First, put your finger on the mirror. If there is a gap between your fingertips and your refection, then it is a real mirror.
However, if there is no gap, then it is a one-way mirror. One-way mirrors are reflective on one side but transparent on the other side.
Use Your Mobile Phones
Yes, you can use your mobile phones to find hidden security cameras inside a public bathroom. This simply means that your mobile phones can be very useful, not just for making calls and texts, or watching videos and movies, or surfing the Internet. They may be used as hidden security camera finders, too.
Here is how:
- Make a phone call while you are inside the bathroom.
- Walk around;
- Stop on areas where you hear interference.
- Download hidden camera detector apps on your mobile phones. You can check if there are any disguised CCTV cameras in school bathrooms using hidden camera detector apps.
- Turn off the lights using your phone’s flashlight to go over suspicious areas. The hidden camera detector app will help you find any hidden security cameras.
What to Do if You Find Hidden Security Cameras in the Bathroom?
You are successful in finding a hidden camera in your bathroom. Good. What next? What should you do after finding one, then?
Gather Solid and Supporting Evidence
By this, we mean taking pictures and recording videos which show that you have found a hidden security camera in a public bathroom. The location of the said hidden security camera must be indicated and clear.
The photos and videos will serve as strong evidence once you decide to take legal actions against this. This evidence will help the court and the police to go through the case smoothly then.
Research Local Laws on Video Surveillance
In whatever action you might decide to take, make sure you are aware of the law.
There are places or states where local laws are different from those in places where you are familiar with.
Therefore, if you encounter the “hidden security cam in public bathrooms” problem, it would be best to familiarize yourself with local laws first before taking action, especially legal ones. Talking to a lawyer will be a great help, too.
However, just gather evidence still. So in case you have a legal case regarding such an incident, you are armed with enough evidence to support your complaint. And when you do, make sure you are well represented.
Remove Video Cameras from Teenagers’ Bathrooms
This applies to teenagers who use bathrooms with video cameras installed by parents. Especially for those teenagers who are 18 up.
If you feel uncomfortable knowing that there is a security camera in your bathroom, the best thing for you to do is to talk to your parents about it.
Let them know how you feel about such device invading your privacy. But talk to them in a proper and nice way so you can communicate effectively.
Parents will understand if you approach them in a nice way. And request for the security camera to be removed.
Call the Attention of the Business Owners and Take Legal Actions
This tip may be applied by those who find hidden security cameras in locker rooms, public bathrooms, changing rooms, and other public places where a certain degree of privacy must be observed.
It could be that the business owners have installed the hidden video cameras secretly or they are not aware that such devices exist in their establishment and who put it there. Either way, you must inform the business owners that you were able to find a hidden security camera in their premises.
It would also be best to find out if there are other victims and unite with them. Then meet with the business owners and negotiate for a reasonable settlement. If this action does not go well, call the police and report the incident.
Then consult legal experts on what to do. If legal actions are taken, business owners may be asked to provide recorded videos from security cameras installed inside and outside the store.
This will help identify perpetrators in cases where the business owner is not aware that hidden security cameras exist and who installed them.
Three Important Facts We Must Be Aware of When Talking About Security Cameras in Bathrooms
It cannot be denied that a lot of crimes happen inside public bathrooms. However, the question of the legality of installing security cameras inside bathrooms linger.
If you are a business owner, and your business establishment is located in a state where installing security cameras in public bathrooms are not legal, then it would be best to follow the law to avoid problems in the future. And the possibility of facing legal charges once you are caught.
Therefore, before making moves regarding the installation of security cameras, here are three facts you must know about first.
Security Cameras are NOT Allowed in Places Where People Need Privacy
How would you feel if your privacy is invaded? Angry, most probably, and humiliated. This is the reason why security cameras are not allowed in places where people expect privacy. For instance, the bathroom, bedroom, changing rooms, locker rooms, and such places.
What if it is not a public place? For example your home? If you are the only person in the house, then it is your choice. However, if you have other people living with you, it might probably be best if you respect their preferences and privacy, too.
But, security cameras may be installed OUTSIDE these places. Although the goings-on inside these areas may not be covered, especially when crimes are committed inside, still you can monitor who comes in and out of the area. This can help identify perpetrators.
Security Cameras May Be Installed Anywhere WITH Permission
Let us say you want to install security cameras in your home, especially in the bathroom. It will be alright if you are the only one living in the house.
However, if you have other people living with you, you need to consult with them first and get their permission before installing one.
The same holds in offices and business establishments. You need to notify your employees about your plans first.
Once they agree, that is the time you can install one. It is also advisable to put notices indicating that there are security cameras on the premises to inform the public and make them aware of it. Public notices may be a way to prevent crimes from happening in such areas.
Security Cameras Exist Anywhere
Despite laws which prohibit the installation of security cameras in bathrooms, they still exist. Especially in offices and homes. It just comes down to one thing, a sense of responsibility on the part of business and homeowners.
As business and homeowners, we must be responsible enough to know and respect laws which concern the installation of security cameras in bathrooms. Therefore respecting the privacy of other people, too.
To Wrap Up
It is understood that with the rampant incidents of crimes committed in bathrooms, the best option establishment owners take is to install security cameras inside the said area.
However, it must also be understood that there are laws which do not allow such actions, as it is an invasion to the privacy of those who are using the facilities.
So how can we resolve this problem, then? This is the purpose of this article – to give us ideas on what we must do legally, to avoid conflicts and resolve the problem at the same time. Hopefully, the tips presented in this article are helpful in more ways than one.
Claudemir Martins is a former Samsung Engineer with 15+ experience in the surveillance industry. He has been traveling around 17 different countries to teach people how to design, and install CCTV systems.