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Are Doorbell Cameras Legal in North Carolina?

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  March 26, 2019   |  

It is not uncommon to see videos of porch thieves caught on doorbell cameras. Amazon’s Ring, Google’s Nest Hello, and other doorbell camera products are growing in popularity and make it easier than ever to catch these criminals.  You don’t even have to be home to see who is at your door.  Simply look at the app on your smart phone.

There are many companies that make doorbells that allow video and audio to be recorded when motion is detected near your front door.  It’s easy to install security cameras to watch your home or check on pets while you are away, but privacy may be an overlooked issue.

PLEASE NOTE: We are providing this information to help answer common questions regarding this area of law, but we do not handle these types of cases. 

Are Home Security Cameras Legal?

While doorbell camera technology may help you catch a thief, could it also result in you facing criminal charges?

When placing a doorbell camera, it is important not to focus solely on your neighbor’s property.  This may imply you are not just using the camera for your own protection.  When purchasing these cameras, you are agreeing to the company’s terms and services.  You are expected to follow the laws based on where you live.

Privacy Laws in North Carolina - Riddle & Brantley

Doorbell camera laws in North Carolina

So where can you point the doorbell camera?

Remember, general privacy laws apply. Privacy laws state that people should have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  You can’t aim the camera at a neighbor’s bedroom or bathroom, but public roads or places visible from the street are fair game.

And what about audio?

In North Carolina the North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act is applicable. North Carolina is a one-party consent state, which means it is legal to record another person if both parties are in North Carolina.

The NC Electronic Surveillance Act states you cannot record audio without the consent of at least one person involved in the conversation. This means that if you speak to someone at your door through the app, it is fine to share that recording.

NC Surveillance Laws - Riddle & Brantley

Privacy experts agree that as doorbell camera technology continues to advance, laws will probably change.  It is important to stay up to date on the laws governing what is legal and what is an invasion of privacy when it comes to video and audio doorbell cameras. Remember, all state laws are different.

A way to avoid violation of privacy is to simply post visible signs near the cameras on your property warning people that the area is under video and audio surveillance. These warning signs must be clearly visible.

PLEASE NOTE: We are providing this information to help answer common questions regarding this area of law, but we do not handle these types of cases.