New York Summary of Statutes Audio/ Video Recording
Are nanny cams legal in New York State? An individual who is a party to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it or disclose its contents. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05 (McKinney 2012).
Video Surveillance Laws: It's legal to install a nanny cam in all 50 states, even if you choose to videotape your nanny without her consent. However, you can't tape her in private areas of your home, such as the bathroom or a live-in nanny's bedroom. Audio recording is a different issue.
The “mechanical overhearing of a conversation,” or the “intentional overhearing or recording of a conversation or discussion, without the consent of at least one party thereto, by a person not present” is illegal. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.00. A state appellate court held that individuals who talk in a manner such that a non-participating third party may freely overhear the conversation may have no reasonable expectation of privacy in it. New York v. Kirsh, 575 N.Y.S.2d 306 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991). Thus, a journalist does not need consent to record conversations in public where there is no reasonable expectation of
The consent of at least one party to any telephone communication, including a cellular telephone communication, is required to record it. Sharon v. Sharon, 558 N.Y.S.2d 468 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1990). And because the provision of the statute dealing with wireless communications applies to “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature,” consent likewise is required to disclose the contents of text messages sent between wireless devices. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.00.
It is a felony to photograph or record “the sexual or other intimate
parts” of a person in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation of
privacy, and to use a hidden camera, regardless of whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, to “up-skirt” or “down-blouse,” or secretly photograph or record that person under or through his or her clothing. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.45. The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e., filming conversations on public streets or a hotel lobby).
Illegally recording an in-person conversation or electronic communication
is a felony offense. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.05. Disclosing recordings: Disclosing the contents of a sealed communication that has been opened or read in violation of the wiretap law without the consent of the communication’s sender or receiver is considered “tampering with private communications,” a misdemeanor. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.25.