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Subject: Board put video and audio-recording cameras in building
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PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 11:55 AM  
I live in a NYC co-op. The board put security cameras throughout the building, in hallways, storage areas and the laundry room. The cameras record both video and audio. The building superintendent (i.e., chief handyman) and property manager both have the video and audio recordings on their phones and laptops. The recordings are deleted after 30 days.

I am told by another owner that these were put up to target and monitor a few residents who the board found troublesome. I am also told (by other owners) that New York "eavesdropping" laws (such as Penal Law 250.05) seem to make audio recording a felony.

How would you respond to this? As I tell people, I expect that everything I do or say can appear on the front page of the New York Times, so I don't do or say anything that I would be upset about if it showed up on the front page, so I don't care if I'm recorded, but if this is blatantly illegal, it's troubling that a board did it.

Thoughts?

Thanks.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:619


12/03/2019 12:33 PM  
Paul,
Did they also post notices of the Cameras and Audio recording devices being Monitored? Does the building have Security issues that everyone is aware of currently?
ND
(PA)

Posts:471


12/03/2019 12:55 PM  
I'm assuming there was a Board Meeting at some point where the topic of camera purchase, install, and use was discussed and decided upon. Did you attend/participate? If so, what was the context surrounding that decision and overall plan for implementation?

If you don't have that context, it may be wise to try and obtain it directly from the Board before relying on second-hand information that may or may not be entirely accurate.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 1:23 PM  
Posted By MarkM19 on 12/03/2019 12:33 PM
Paul,
Did they also post notices of the Cameras and Audio recording devices being Monitored? Does the building have Security issues that everyone is aware of currently?




No and no.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 1:24 PM  
Posted By ND on 12/03/2019 12:55 PM
I'm assuming there was a Board Meeting at some point where the topic of camera purchase, install, and use was discussed and decided upon. Did you attend/participate? If so, what was the context surrounding that decision and overall plan for implementation?

If you don't have that context, it may be wise to try and obtain it directly from the Board before relying on second-hand information that may or may not be entirely accurate.




Board meetings are not disclosed to owners, and no minutes are kept.

At the most recent annual meeting (attended by 3 owners, since it's held far away from the building), one owner asked about the cameras and was told what I posted.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9444


12/03/2019 3:52 PM  
I would not take the word of someone who believes that the cameras are for recording "troublesome" members. They work just as well for monitoring for crime and other issues. Someone who feels they are targeting certain people most likely is one of those guilty people...

They say once you leave your house/front door you have absolutely no reason to believe in your privacy. There are videos about everywhere. Those include stop lights, ATM's, neighbors security systems, and people just walking down the street with a smart phone. So there most likely isn't a privacy issue outside the door of your unit.

Eavesdropping laws vary I believe for each state. You can eavesdrop and record a conversation here in Alabama IF the parties know they are being recorded. So it's best that they do post signs letting people know that video/audio is being taken. Otherwise, it can be kicked out of court for violation.

Former HOA President
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 5:12 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 12/03/2019 3:52 PM
I would not take the word of someone who believes that the cameras are for recording "troublesome" members.




Thanks. The board members themselves stated that they wanted to keep an eye on a few owners.

In NY, recording audio of someone is illegal unless one party to the conversation has approved.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 5:12 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 12/03/2019 3:52 PM
I would not take the word of someone who believes that the cameras are for recording "troublesome" members.




Thanks. The board members themselves stated that they wanted to keep an eye on a few owners.

In NY, recording audio of someone is illegal unless one party to the conversation has approved.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2890


12/03/2019 5:32 PM  
So, the issue in this case, is whether video and audio are being recorded?

Audio is a no no since NY requires at least one party of a conversation to approve in advance.

There is apparently no restriction wrt video recordings.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 5:45 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/03/2019 5:32 PM
So, the issue in this case, is whether video and audio are being recorded?

Audio is a no no since NY requires at least one party of a conversation to approve in advance.

There is apparently no restriction wrt video recordings.




Yes, and particularly audio--and since audio recordings seem to be illegal, how to address it?

File a police report or do more?

Why in the world would a board do something so brazenly illegal and expect to get away with it?

Thanks.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/03/2019 5:45 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/03/2019 5:32 PM
So, the issue in this case, is whether video and audio are being recorded?

Audio is a no no since NY requires at least one party of a conversation to approve in advance.

There is apparently no restriction wrt video recordings.




Yes, and particularly audio--and since audio recordings seem to be illegal, how to address it?

File a police report or do more?

Why in the world would a board do something so brazenly illegal and expect to get away with it?

Thanks.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2890


12/03/2019 5:59 PM  
Have you personally seen the material recorded? Are you certain audio is being recorded? I mean, it isn’t heresay?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9444


12/03/2019 8:24 PM  
When you say "Illegal" it means the evidence presented via the audio recording is NOT admissible in court. Meaning that it's of no legal benefit for them in court if they do present it. They may be able to bring just the visual form.

So calling the police has no real relevance or power. They are a corporation and protected by the "corporate shield". So considering your wanting to file criminal charges who would actually serve the jail time?

Former HOA President
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/04/2019 2:50 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 12/03/2019 8:24 PM
When you say "Illegal" it means the evidence presented via the audio recording is NOT admissible in court. Meaning that it's of no legal benefit for them in court if they do present it. They may be able to bring just the visual form.

So calling the police has no real relevance or power. They are a corporation and protected by the "corporate shield". So considering your wanting to file criminal charges who would actually serve the jail time?




By “illegal”, I mean that recording audio of someone is a felony under New York Penal Code 250.05 unless at least one party to the conversation has consented to the recording. So it’s like robbing someone: the person who does it can be charged with a felony and prosecuted.

Board members have stated (at the meeting) that audio is being recorded, and board members have told me that directly.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16847


12/04/2019 3:32 AM  
Paul,

My suggestion is to inform the board and management company of the issue.
Additionally, that they can simply disable the audio recording capability and be in compliance with the statute.

If you get push back, pay some money and have an attorney write a letter on your behalf to the board specifying the same thing. Have this delivered via certified mail to the registered agent.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/05/2019 6:31 AM  
Thanks. People have informed the board and property manager and their response is that they have no duty to inform owners or other residents of the audio and video recordings, and that the recordings are fine.

I'm not a criminal lawyer, but it seems as though NY Penal Code 250.05 makes audio recordings without consent of one party to a conversation a Class E felony, and that even putting up signs saying "you're under surveillance" won't suffice to prevent arrests and lawsuits.

Why shouldn't I file a lawsuit and report this to the police, and encourage others to do the same?
AugustinD


Posts:3647


12/05/2019 6:53 AM  
Posted By PaulJ6 on 12/05/2019 6:31 AM
I'm not a criminal lawyer, but it seems as though NY Penal Code 250.05 makes audio recordings without consent of one party to a conversation a Class E felony, and that even putting up signs saying "you're under surveillance" won't suffice to prevent arrests and lawsuits.


I wondered whether signs or condo/co-op newsletters indicating audio recordings are taking place in the common areas denote de facto consent by anyone having a conversation in a common area. Regarding the signs, this site says yes: https://www.upcounsel.com/audio-surveillance-laws-by-state . I think it's the same as a fiduciary (like a stock brokerage or bank) stating at the beginning of a phone conversation that, 'this conversation may be recorded... ' One does not explicitly consent, but by silence, one implicitly consents to being recorded.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/05/2019 6:59 AM  
Thanks. I appreciate your posting that.

In any event, the audio recordings have been going on for months without signs.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2890


12/05/2019 7:05 AM  
By this stage of angst:

1. looked for audio recording warnings that may have been posted, and if none, then,
2. formal letter to the Board, notifying them of the NY law relating to audio recording
3. I formally ask to review a snip of the camera system output to determine if it had audio

Do something to close on the issue - with the organization related to the issue.

Let us know what happens so that we may all learn.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/05/2019 7:41 AM  
Thanks. The board has been informed that the audio recording system may be illegal; the board has let selected people know that audio recordings are being done; and the board has stated that what it's doing is fine and that it is not obligated to change anything.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2890


12/05/2019 9:30 AM  
Most, if not all of that sounds at least second hand.

Looks like you need to act to get first hand facts.
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/05/2019 9:49 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/05/2019 9:30 AM
Most, if not all of that sounds at least second hand.

Looks like you need to act to get first hand facts.




I've been told that now directly by a board member, so it's all first hand now.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2890


12/05/2019 10:04 AM  
No ... that is not first hand.

First hand is reviewing what us being recorded.

Acting would be a cease and desist order - or a letter noting that will be the next action.

Why not just ask the Board to post notices in the buildings?
PaulJ6


Posts:0


12/05/2019 10:22 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/05/2019 10:04 AM
No ... that is not first hand.

First hand is reviewing what us being recorded.

Acting would be a cease and desist order - or a letter noting that will be the next action.

Why not just ask the Board to post notices in the buildings?




No way will the board let any "outsider" review what's being recorded. And reviewing what's being recorded could make me guilty of a felony. So I am not going to do that.

The board has repeatedly told others and me that it can do what it wants and has no obligation to inform anyone of anything. So it's not going to post notices.

The board has received cease and desist letters on other matters and ignored them, so that wouldn't work.

I appreciate your feedback- please don't take this as arguing. It's just ridiculous how this board acts.

I'm thinking that a police report and a lawsuit are the next steps, but I welcome other perspectives and appreciate yours.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2890


12/05/2019 10:38 AM  
I kinda like a call to the local PD describing your concerns regarding being audio recorded.

Just note you have been told by the President of the Board, that you are being audio recorded, and you don’t wish to be.

See if they respond. Note carefully what they tell you.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Board put video and audio-recording cameras in building



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