Cuomo signs law banning unauthorized filming of neighbors

Posted 16 August 2017 at 2:18 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to crack down on the unauthorized invasion of privacy by video surveillance.

Following reports of cameras being installed to unlawfully videotape neighboring private property, this bill (S.870A/A.861A) establishes a private right of action for damages for an unlawful invasion of privacy in an individual’s backyard.

“Everyone should be able to feel safe in their own home and in their own back yard,” Cuomo said. “This legislation will crack down on disturbing behavior and give New Yorkers legal recourse and peace of mind in order to protect their privacy and potentially their own personal safety.”

Unlawful surveillance was made a crime in 2003, however, it only establishes criminal penalties for unlawful video surveillance when the videotaping occurs in a setting with a “reasonable expectation of privacy” (i.e., a bathroom or changing room), or if a perpetrator had to trespass on property to videotape or install a camera.

This bill provides additional protections for homeowners, giving them the ability to sue a neighbor for invasion of privacy if the neighbor secretly records recreational activities in their backyard.

Senator Catharine Young said, “Protecting the privacy of New Yorkers is paramount to ensuring a sense of security for individuals and families on their own property. This legislation will extend protections for an individual’s right to privacy in their own backyard while cracking down on illicit invasions of privacy that may occur on their property. I applaud the Governor for signing this important bill into law today.”

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein said, “It is disturbing that some individuals have been purposely filming their neighbors, including young children, in their backyards. Since I introduced this legislation in the Assembly, I have heard from people around the state who have been victimized by this practice. This law will provide families with legal recourse in the event that someone tries to invade the privacy they deserve in their backyards.”

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