Your backyard barbecue is now private under New York’ s Backyard Surveillance Law

Your backyard barbecue is now private under New York’ s Backyard Surveillance Law

Effective September 15, 2017 snooping on your neighbor’s backyard pool party or barbecue by video surveillance becomes illegal in New York.

Unlawful surveillance was made a crime in 2003 however that law only applied to places where there was an expectation of privacy like dressing rooms and bathrooms, or if the person had to trespass on property to videotape or install a camera. Known as Stephanie’s Law, named after Stephanie Fuller, who discovered that she was being secretly videotaped in her bedroom by her landlord using a hidden video camera, N.Y. Penal Law § 250.5 made such surveillance a Class E-Felony, punishable by up to 4 years imprisonment for first time offenders and up to 7 years for repeat offenders.

Since there was no expectation of privacy outdoors New Yorker’s had no protection against nosy neighbors with surveillance cameras that could view their backyard. That has now changed with the enactment of Section 52-a of the Civil Rights Law, the Backyard Surveillance Law. The new law establishes a private right or action for owners and tenants of residential premises against a person videotaping recreational activities in the backyard of the premises. While not a criminal offense, the law gives homeowners and tenants the ability to sue a neighbor for invasion of privacy and obtain an injunction against videotaping recreational activities in their backyards.

Before bringing an action under the new law it is important to ask your neighbor to remove the camera, and if not complied you or your attorney should document that request in writing. This should help strengthen your application should you need to seek relief in court.

If you have any questions about this or other legal matters contact
the Law Office of John N. Tasolides at (516) 682-8220 or via e-mail jnt@tasolaw.com.

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