Cameras are everywhere. We are constantly being filmed. In our cars, walking down the streets of our cities and towns. It seems no matter where we go, there are cameras snapping photos of us in our worst (and best) moments.
Dressing rooms, locker rooms and bathrooms are places we expect to have privacy. Maybe it’s laundry day and your best underwear is still at home in the washer. Whatever the case may be, you don’t want to be on candid camera while changing clothes, trying on clothes in a store or going to the bathroom. Is it legal to have cameras in these areas? In most states, it is.
The intrusive eye of a camera can ward off criminals who attempt to steal those $300 pair of jeans. It can also reveal bodies of women, children and men who don’t care to be seen in their most vulnerable moments and who aren’t stealing anything.
Thirteen states in the US do not allow cameras in areas one would expect privacy, such as hotel rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms and even dressing rooms. South Dakota, New Hampshire, Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, Utah, Kansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Georgia, California, Arkansas and Alabama have made it illegal for stores to watch consumers try on clothing by means of installing a camera in dressing rooms. If you live in any other state, you may want to rethink stepping into a dressing room to try on that awesome shirt.
Even though it’s legal for these stores to install cameras for security purposes, the store must include a sign informing customers that they may be monitored while trying on clothing. Laws in these states that are designed to keep an eye on those people visiting their restrooms and locker rooms vary, depending on the state. Most of these states do, however, expressly prohibit surveillance cameras in restrooms.
Camera phones are readily available to those who own even the cheapest of phones. The development of nice cameras placed in phones has led us to a constant barrage of photo ops that we may or may not be ready for. Our “gotcha” society is filled with people snapping photos of us in our worst moments and the photos inevitably end up on Facebook or other social media sites. God help you if it’s a pic of you at one of your worst moments as the photo will travel through the social sites of the Internet like water through a pipe.
Because of the overwhelming amount of camera availability, some places are now banning camera phones. Some schools are catching on to the process of students snapping photos of tests to cheat. Courts are outlawing the use of camera phones within the courthouse to avoid pictures being taken of undercover police men and women who are there to testify. Large corporations and businesses are banning phone cameras because they are worried someone may photograph confidential documents to sell to other companies.
The latest case out of Oregon came recently when a man crouched down in a store and snapped photographs of a teen’s body under her skirt, without her knowledge or permission. He was spotted by another shopper and turned in. Appearing in court, the Oregon judge could not find any wrong doing due to the way laws are written in Oregon. He was in a store, which is a public place, so it was legal. The judge was disgusted, the girl was embarrassed and appalled and the parents of the girl angry. Rightfully so.
In 2004, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act passed without complaint. This act describes the rights of the person being photographed or taped without permission.
The VVPA states that a naked person in a gym, tanning salon, dressing room or elsewhere that you would expect a reasonable amount of privacy is safe in terms of not being a photography target, although that’s just the cameras that we know about. Some hobby photographers tend to capture items on film without having to work too hard at hiding it. Pretend you’re chatting on the phone, snap the photo and viola! You have someone naked on Facebook over the next few moments. It all happens too quickly.
We have cameras in public snapping our photographs all the time. Pictures of us sitting in our car at a red light is so commonplace now that most don’t pay attention to them any more. You Tube is full of unaware people who are caught in the most compromising positions. Society, as a whole, expects to see photos of any type of situation since the enhancement of phone cameras.
At what point do we say enough is enough? Are we to stand by and let our children be exposed to perverts in stores as they snap away at the child’s undergarments? We all know what it is they do with those pictures once they arrive back at their homes. Is this okay? Legally, yes it is, at least in some states. Most states to be exact. The child is not nude and if the photo is taken in a public place, we assume then that it is legal in those states.
We capture police officers abusing citizens. We post them to social media sites where they are passed around for years, collecting comments as they travel through cyber space. Some videos and pics aren’t taken at the beginning of the incident, leaving the truth untold.
As a society, we are ready to revolt against most anything. The pictures add that spark, that undying need to attack our fellow man, government and police. On the other hand, we have those videos and pictures that make us privy to certain events that may be socially or morally wrong. A few of these images are used in courtrooms to stop the violation of our laws. In this case, the option of capturing a picture is a good thing. But when and where do we draw the line?
The next time you are in a clothing store, be sure to pay close attention to the surrounding signs. It may just be a dressing room that allows the use of cameras to stop any shoplifters that enter the booth to steal their wares. Hopefully there isn’t a cell phone user outside the door of your dressing room secretly collecting photos of you while you dress or undress. Being a nude Facebook celebrity isn’t the best of situations unless you’re wanting it that way.
Have you checked the laws regarding camera use in your state? You might want to do a little research before heading to the clothing stores..