Most people don’t realize that nearly all modern security cameras record audio as well as video. This can be a great feature for catching criminals, but it can also raise privacy concerns. If you’re considering installing a security camera system, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of audio recording.
Can security cameras record audio, and is it legal? Most modern WiFi and IP security cameras do record audio. However, recording audio without a person’s permission in states with two-party consent laws is illegal.
We have become more and more comfortable with the idea of surveillance. We routinely let security cameras track our every move in stores and other public places.
Many of us also have home security systems that include cameras. But what happens when you start to think about recording audio as well as video?
Is it legal to record audio without someone’s consent? And what are the implications for personal privacy?
Can security cameras record audio?
Most security cameras today can capture audio as well as video. Before you buy a security camera, make sure to check and see if it can record sound.
- Recording sound can help provide more information about a situation but must be done in compliance with local laws.
- WiFi security cameras with audio recording features can be a great way to keep an eye on your home or office while you’re away.
- These cameras can connect to your WiFi network and allow you to view live streaming video of the area you’re monitoring.
- Many of these cameras also can record sound helping you capture more information if something happens while you’re not there.
Security cameras have three types of audio functions
One-way audio is the ability of a security camera to capture audio from the area it is monitoring, but not to capture audio from the person watching the live stream.
This feature can be helpful, as it can allow you to hear what’s happening in the area being monitored without someone hearing you.
Two-way audio is the ability of a security camera to capture both audios from the area being monitored and from the person watching the live stream.
This option can be a helpful feature, as it can allow you to communicate with people in the area being monitored.
Audio capture – Some security cameras can start recording when it hears audio. This feature can be helpful, as it can start recording audio and video before there is any movement in the camera’s field of view.
Before you buy a security camera, make sure to check and see if it has one-way or two-way audio.
Is it legal to record audio with security cameras?
It is legal for a home or business owner to record audio in public spaces with security cameras. However, in states with two-party consent laws, it is illegal to record audio without the other person’s knowledge.
What are the rules?
A lot of it depends on where you live. Many states have specific rules about who can record audio and how it must be done.
- Some states require that all parties involved in a conversation consent to any recording, while others allow for recording without consent if one person is aware of the recording.
- In some states, the type of device used to record audio determines how you can use it.
- For instance, a hidden camera is not allowed to record audio in some places without the consent of those being recorded.
Single party consent states
In states with single-party consent laws, recording a conversation without all parties’ consent is legal. These states have specific rules about who can record audio and how you must do it.
These states require that one party be aware of and consent to any recording to protect the privacy of those involved.
Two-party consent states
A two-party consent state is a state in which it is illegal to record a conversation without the consent of all parties involved.
These states have specific laws about who can record audio and how you must do it.
These states require consent from all parties for any recording of conversations to protect the privacy of those involved.
- New Hampshire
These states have complicated rules when it comes to recording conversations. It is best to work with an attorney if you plan to record audio of any kind.
Which Cameras have audio capabilities?
Nearly all wireless cameras sold today have audio recording, but they are not all created equal. I install hundreds of cameras every year for my customers, and here is a list of my favorite wireless cameras with audio.
- Nest Hello Video Doorbell
- Nest Indoor Cameras
- Nest Outdoor Cameras
- Ring Door Bell Camera
- Ring Flood Light Camera
- Ring Indoor Camera
How can I tell if a security camera has audio?
There are a few ways to tell if a security camera records audio.
- One way is to check the specs of the camera. Most security cameras that have audio capabilities will list it in their specs.
- Another way is to look at the camera itself. If there is a small pinhole near the camera’s lens, it is likely that it has a microphone and records audio.
- Finally, you can ask the seller or manufacturer about the camera’s audio capabilities. They should be able to tell you whether or not the camera records audio and what kind of audio it records (one-way or two-way).
How far can security cameras hear audio?
Security cameras can capture audio from 100 to 150 feet away on average.
Security cameras record audio in much the same way as a human: they can only hear and record what is close enough to be picked up by the microphone.
Anything that is further than its listed distance from the camera should not usually be expected to be recorded. In this respect, security cameras are no different from a human listener.
However, not expected to be recorded does not mean impossible to record. If the sound source is loud enough, it may still be picked up by the microphone and captured as part of the recording.
Another factor determining how far a security camera can record audio is the direction of the sound source.
Depending on where it is positioned, a security camera may record sounds from all directions, or only front and forward-facing ones.
In most cases, security cameras are most effective when facing directly forward, as most sound sources are unlikely to be traveling straight toward the camera.
Can I turn off the audio of my security camera?
Yes. Many security cameras allow you to turn off or disable the audio recording feature.
This function is often done through the camera’s menu using an app on your smartphone.
For example, some Nest security cameras allow you to disable audio recording through the menu option on the Nest app.
If you can’t figure out how to disable the audio recording, many people choose to cover up the microphone of the security camera with a bit of electrical tape.
This is done to ensure that no one can hear what is recorded.
Do you need to post signs if you have security cameras?
You don’t need to post signs if you have security cameras inside or outside your home.
Some states require that you put up signs in businesses or public areas where people are expected to have privacy.
The signs let people know that they are being recorded. Other states don’t require any signs, but it is good to put them up anyway to ensure everyone understands.
You can use a security camera to record audio, whether one-way or two-way. If you are in a state that requires all parties to consent before recording the conversation, then your best option would be to disable any sound capabilities of the device through an app on your phone.
If this sounds challenging, you might want to consider a different surveillance option. If only one party needs to consent, then signs should be enough to let people know they are being recorded.
Always contact an attorney if you are planning on recording conversations. Recording laws can be very complicated, and it is best to work with an expert if you are unsure.
The author would like to thank their sources for their help in creating this article.