“A Dynamic Area of the Law”: William C. Banks Discusses Hotel Cameras & Surveillance with TIME

Are Hotels Spying On You? Here’s the Truth

(TIME | Sept. 21, 2017) If you’ve ever walked into a hotel room and wondered if you’re being watched, you’re not alone.

Whether it’s an idle question or a gnawing paranoia, many Americans have considered whether hotels are spying on their guests in the digital age. The answer is generally no, since that would violate laws in more than a dozen states. But the issue is complicated on a federal level, and security experts also say rogue hotel employees could easily hide small cameras inside devices, like clocks and lamps …

… Under federal wiretapping statutes, it’s illegal in every state to audio record anybody without their knowledge, but there’s no federal law pertaining to hidden camera usage, according to Syracuse University law professor William Banks. Only about 13 states have made it illegal to install or use cameras in private places without authorization from recorded subjects, according to Sanchez and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “This is obviously a really dynamic area of the law,” Banks said. “It’s a rapidly changing area of policy and law in states. It’s challenging for legislatures to keep up with the changes in technology — what you can do with your telephone or your gadget that’s hardly visible” …

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