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Is it legal to set up a security camera that would record the outside of my house? In view would be the front yard and the

Athol, MA |

street in front of my house.
Do I have to notify anyone that it is recording?

Attorney Answers 3


For your own property, no. Store owners do this all the time. In most stores, however, you see a sign staying that a camera is in use, to deter thieves. I assume the company will give you one for your front door or lawn and I think you should post it as a warning to thieves and notice to others.

To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state, I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.

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You do not have the right to audio record people without their consent. To do so is a crime. While setting up a security camera does not necessarily violate the law, the way in which you do it may. By way of example only, a sex offender who records a children's playground across the street, or video surveillance of a neighbor in concert with other factors that rises to the level of harassment. In other words, more information is needed.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on generalized Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. If you would like an attorney with Vaughn-Martel Law to review your specific situation and provide you with legal options or information specific to you, you may schedule a telephone or office by calling 617-357-4898 or visiting us at Our office charges $100.00 for a consultation, and applies your consultation fee to your first bill if the Firm is hired to perform further work.

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Basically you are taking a picture of the street from your window. It is hard for me to see how this is illegal.

You need to avoid recording audio. This violates Massachusetts privacy laws. It is considered wiretapping. The law is General Laws c. 272, § 99 and it prohibits the secret interception of “oral communications” and “wire communications” and imposes substantial criminal penalties for violations of the statute. There are also federal wiretap laws.

When I last looked at this issue a few years ago, there was no law in the state that prohibited video surveillance, except in the case of retail stores. I have not updated my research.

My answers are general in nature based upon very short, and often incomplete questions. Please do not rely upon my answers. If you need a legal opinion, you need to hire a lawyer who will take the time to fully understand your problem and then take the time to research the issues.

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