Hidden Cameras, Audio Bugs, and GPS Devices: What’s Legal in Delaware? Could Someone Be Spying on You?
We’ve all become more accustomed to how technology impacts our lives. We can now use our smartphones or web cams for video chatting. We rely on email and instant messaging platforms. Cell phones, texting, and voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri are the norm. All of this technology is great, but it isn’t always used with good intentions.
In Delaware, hidden cameras, audio bugs, and GPS tracking devices are inexpensive technological wonders that can be acquired by anyone. They don’t necessarily take a lot of technical know-how to set-up and use. They are, in fact, often used to spy on people just like you. So, when it comes to hidden cameras, audio bugs, and GPS tracking devices, what’s legal in Delaware? Could your privacy be at risk?
What Delaware Law Says about the Use of Hidden Cameras and Audio Bugs
There are specific laws in Delaware that directly address hidden camera use. If you own a home, you are legally allowed to use hidden cameras in your home as long as they are not hidden in an area where someone would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, it would be illegal to place a hidden camera in a bedroom or in the bathroom. It is legal for someone to use a hidden camera to record or take photos of another person who is in a public place. For example, if you were walking down the sidewalk, it is legal for someone to take photos or video of you.
An audio bug is a device that allows someone to monitor or record a conversation. The State of Delaware includes electronic communication under their wiretapping law. It also includes electronic storage of oral or electronic communication. Delaware law states that no one (without a warrant or who isn’t simply doing their job as a telephone operator) shall “intentionally intercept, endeavor to intercept, or procure any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, oral or electronic communication…to disclose or endeavor to disclose…the contents…knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through interception…or intentionally use or endeavor to use the contents…knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wife, oral or electronic communication…” Illegally recording or monitoring a conversation may be treated as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The person who was targeted may also have civil rights under the law.
Delaware is what is known as a two-party consent state. This means that every person who is involved in a conversation must give consent for anyone to record or monitor it. It’s important to note that the Delaware wiretapping statute may also be invoked if a hidden camera also records or transmits audio.
What Delaware Law Says about the Use of GPS Tracking Devices
GPS tracking devices are common in phones and in purchased vehicles. We are not referencing the consensual use of your location settings or GPS on your cell phone or a built-in GPS system placed by either the manufacturer or the car dealer where you purchased the vehicle. We mean the placement of a GPS device not already present on the vehicle and without the knowledge of the driver. We are also not referencing GPS devices used by law enforcement.
In Delaware, it is legally considered a violation of privacy if someone places a GPS device of any sort onto a vehicle without the consent of the registered owner, lessor, or lessee. However, it is lawful for the parent or legal guardian of a minor child to place a GPS device on a vehicle so that they may monitor the location of their child.
Could Someone Be Spying on You?
The idea that someone could be spying on you isn’t as far fetched as you might believe. The most common reasons these devices are used to spy on people are:
- You own a business. Corporate espionage is alive and well. Someone may have hidden cameras or audio bugs in key employee offices. Your VOIP, landline, cell phone, email, and web conferencing equipment may not be as secure as you think. In addition to physical hidden devices, there are also apps that may be used to fully monitor everything that is said and done in your office. And if that’s not scary enough, the apps are readily available and the person deploying them won’t necessarily need access to your business to do it.
- You’re separating or divorcing. A spouse may want to spy on you so that they can hopefully find something to blackmail or embarrass you with. They may think that they can use the information against you in court. Remember that it is perfectly legal for a homeowner to place hidden cameras in their home as long as they aren’t in bedrooms or bathrooms. There may also be apps deployed that allow your spouse to watch you through a web cam (or the camera on your cell phone) without you knowing it. They could also be using apps to read all of your emails, text message, and everything you type. Audio bugs could be used (including apps that don’t require physical access to your phone) to monitor who you’re talking with, what you’re saying, and your plans.
- You’re a party named in a child-custody dispute. Much like those involved in a separation or divorce, these spying tools may be used against you to try and make you out to be a bad parent, to blackmail you, or to embarrass you. Apps could also be hidden not just on your electronic equipment but that belonging to your child(ren). Remember that Delaware law does provide some leeway for GPS devices to monitor the location of minor children.
- You’re involved in a dangerous or abusive relationship. Hidden cameras, GPS devices, and audio bugs are used more and more often by abusers who want to retain control. This includes the use of apps to monitor your online behavior. Devices and apps can make safety a serious issue for victims.
- You’re being stalked. You may or may not know that you’re being stalked. Much like being involved in a volatile or abusive relationship, your safety may be at stake.
If you think that someone may be spying on you for any reason, don’t talk to anyone about it. You don’t know how many devices there are or where they are located. You also don’t want to tip off the perpetrator because they may come and remove the devices just to replant them at another point in time. Do not change your routine too much because that may also alert the perpetrator. Call Spy Catchers from a safe location at 1-800-373-8726 to schedule your free estimate. We want to help you get your privacy back.