Hidden Cameras, Audio Bugs, and GPS Devices in Maryland: What Is Legal?
Maryland is no stranger to the advancements and usefulness of technology in everyday life. Whether you use technology for business, video chatting with friends and families, texting others, calling over wi-fi, and the ease of availability when it comes to information gathering, you use technology multiple times of day. It may seem like something out of a spy movie for us to say, but hidden cameras, audio bugs, and GPS devices are common tools used to spy on regular people just like you. It happens more often than you might think or even want to believe. While finding out someone might be spying on you is shocking enough, the real question is: what’s actually legal when it comes to using those devices in Maryland?
Hidden Camera Use in Maryland: What Does the Law Say?
Maryland law is strict about what is allowed when it comes to the use of hidden cameras. It is illegal to place a camera in a private residence to conduct any kind of observation on the people living in the house, condo, apartment, or other housing unit. Even landlords are not allowed to use hidden cameras in the residence that they rent out to another person or family.
To ignore the law may result in a misdemeanor criminal charge along with fines and possible civil damages for a first offense.
Audio Bugs and Conversations: What’s the Law
Maryland is one of eleven states that uses the two-party consent law when it comes to recording or monitoring conversations. This means that if two parties are having a conversation, both must give consent to have the conversation recorded or monitored. If three people are involved, all three must consent, and so on. However, implied consent is enough to make it legal to record any phone call. This is best interpreted as situations where the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Violating the law may result in a felony charge, along with fines and possible civil charges.
Are GPS Devices for Surveillance Legal in Maryland?
GPS devices in Maryland are considered unreasonable searches of another person’s property. The use of these devices is regulated at both the state and federal levels. Someone putting a GPS device on another person’s property with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another is considered harassment by stalking under Maryland law. Examples of this may include pursuit, surveillance, or nonconsensual contact.
Is Someone Spying on You?
Since we discussed the laws in Maryland concerning hidden cameras, audio bugs, and GPS devices, there is something else you must consider. While this idea is not what anyone wants to think about, it is possible that someone may be spying on you. You do not have to be rich or famous or live a life as a public figure, either. If you live in Maryland some of the most common reasons for another person to be spying on you by using GPS, audio bugs, or hidden cameras include:
- You own or co-own a business. You may think that corporate espionage is something that happens to multi-million dollar business, but it is far more common in small or medium size business than you may think. You do not have to be getting rich from your efforts. Others in the industry may see you as a threat, and that’s enough for them to consider taking drastic (illegal) action. This can be done using a current or former employee to spy on your business and its practices, using hidden cameras, or hiding audio bugs in offices and conference rooms. There are apps that may be used to monitor your phone calls, VOIP calls, web conferences, and video chats. They may even be using you web cam and microphone to watch and listen to everything happening without your knowledge. Keyloggers are another tool deployed against opposing businesses to record everything you type. They may even go as far as to use apps to see all your text messages and emails.
- You are in the process of a divorce or separation. You may be the target of your soon to be ex-spouse who is looking to monitor everything you do and say. Your spouse could also be tracking your movements without your knowledge, listening to your phone calls, reading text messages, and seeing what you are doing online. They may be hoping to use this against you in court, or just to threaten or blackmail you. While using this type of information is illegal because of how it was obtained, that likely won’t be a deterrence for the activity. They could also be attempting to get you fired from your job or just to ruin your life.
- Involvement in a child custody dispute. Even without marriage, you may find engaged in a nasty custody dispute over shared children. The other parent could be trying to listen to what you say or even watch what you do. The other parent could be looking to prove you are an unfit parent or just hoping that you will give up custody in fear of what they have recorded being brought out into the public. Just like we previously mentioned, your cell phone, land line, VOIP call, text messages, web cam, and online activity could all be monitored. There are apps out there that are not hard to install even without touching the device. It is important to have every cell phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop checked by a professional and also to have your home and vehicle swept as well.
- You have a jealous, possessive, or abusive significant other. Regardless of whether you have left, you’re planning to leave, or you are still in a relationship with someone who feels the need to control or abuse you, they may use GPS devices, audio bugs, or hidden cameras against you. The use of these devices creates a dangerous situation for the victim.
What Steps You Need to Take If Think You Are Being Watched
If you believe someone may be spying on you and you live in Maryland, take these steps:
- Do not change your routine. Changing your routine could alert the person who planted the device or devices. They may get rid of them before they can be found. You may think that sounds like good news, but you need them in order to consider pursuing legal action against the person who installed the devices. You also do not want them to be moved or removed and then placed later.
- Do not talk with anyone about it. You do not know how many devices there are or where they are hidden. Speaking about it with anyone could be a warning to the person who placed the device or devices. You don’t know how many devices there are, where they are hidden, or who is actually involved. Alerting someone that you may know about them could cause the perpetrator to temporarily remove them.
- Get to a safe place, use a safe phone, and call Spy Catchers at 1–800-373-8726. We provide you with free estimates in Maryland. Our professional team can sweep your home, business, and vehicle to help you get back your peace of mind and to keep you safe.