Hidden Cameras, Audio Bugs, and GPS Devices: What Does South Dakota Law Say about Their Use?
South Dakota is filled with parks and natural wonders that people from around the world come to see every year. We take photos and record videos of the attractions. We use our cell phones, cameras, and a whole plethora of devices to record these moments in real time so we can share them with others or look back on our trip. Yet, technology is not always used for such pure motives. There are some people that attempt to use hidden cameras, audio bugs, and GPS trackers to track, follow, harass, get information on, or stalk another person. We know it likely sounds crazy or like something that only happens to public figures, but it is true and it happens to regular people every day in South Dakota. So, what does South Dakota law say about the use of these devices?
What South Dakota Law Says about Hidden Camera Use
South Dakota follows federal guidelines when it comes to hidden cameras and their use. It is legal to place a hidden camera inside of your own home for the purposes of monitoring and securing it. However, it’s not legal for a landlord to place hidden cameras in the rental unit. It is also not legal for anyone to use a hidden camera in an area where there is an expectation to reasonable privacy, such as a bedroom or a bathroom.
Of course, if you are out in public, the expectation of privacy is no longer there, unless you enter a space such as a bathroom. Places such as parks, restaurant patios, and walking down a sidewalk are examples of public spaces.
What South Dakota Law Says about Audio Bug Use
South Dakota is considered to be a one-party consent state. This means that if at least two people are having a conversation, at least one of the parties to the conversation must give consent to being recorded or monitored. If someone uses an audio bug or other device to monitor or record a conversation without permission of one person involved in it, they may be charged with a felony.
What South Dakota Law Says about GPS Devices
For the purpose of discussing South Dakota law concerning GPS tracking devices, it is important to note that we are not referencing:
- Lawful authority involving the use of a GPS device after receiving a warrant;
- GPS devices ordered by the court to monitor the location of an offender;
- GPS devices that are used for emergency services, such as OnStar;
- GPS devices installed by financing companies in vehicles that aren’t paid off.
Using GPS devices without a warrant or without the knowledge or consent of the person being tracked is considered an invasion of privacy under South Dakota law. It may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, based on the circumstances involved in the matter.
Could You Be a Victim of Spying?
You do not have to be a public figure to be a victim of spying in South Dakota. It happens to regular people more often than you would like to think. Corporate espionage is still a very common occurrence in South Dakota. The size of your business is not the main factor that contributes to this, either. Someone could be angry with you and be looking to ruin your business. A competitor could be looking to take you out of the industry. Corporate espionage may include the use of hidden cameras, audio bugs, GPS devices, or even keyloggers and other apps to learn everything about your business in an attempt to take away your competitive edge or run your business into the ground. They could have placed the hidden devices in conference rooms, offices, and even personal or company vehicles. Your web conferencing, phone conferencing, computers, and cell phones could also be under surveillance.
Private citizens in South Dakota are also at risk of being spied on with these devices. This most often occur when someone is involved in:
- Divorce or separation. Certain types of surveillance may be used by your soon-to-be former spouse for many different reasons, including blackmailing or harassing you. If you still share a home, this activity may or may not be illegal. It’s important to discuss your specific situation with a family law attorney who can help make that determination. Your email, text messages, online activity, smart phone, and computer are just a few of the devices that may be affected. Your web cam may be turning on to watch you without your knowledge.
- Child custody case. A contentious relationship with the other parent, regardless of whether you were married, could put you at risk. They could be for information they hope to use to blackmail you, threaten you, or scare you. Of course, they may be doing all of it under the guise of being worried about the shared children. In addition to all of your devices being at risk, your children’s devices could also be used for such purposes.
- A bad relationship with a jealous or abusive person. GPS devices, audio bugs, and hidden cameras as well as apps for digital devices are used more and more by jealous or abusive people to keep tabs on the other person. These devices can extremely dangerous for the victim and should be found and handled as quickly as possible for safety reasons.
- As if the thought of a jealous lover was not enough, there may be someone who you have never met or only met in passing that may be stalking you for some reason.
- On-the-job or personal injury claim. If you filed a claim for worker’s compensation or with an insurance company because of an injury, the other party may be spying on you in to try and prove that you are not really hurt.
What You Should Do If You Think Someone Is Spying on You in South Dakota
If you think that someone may be using a hidden camera, audio device, or a GPS device to spy on you, here’s what you should do.
- Do not tell anyone about what you think is happening unless you have an attorney. If you have an attorney, you can tell them as it remains privileged information. Just make sure that you turn your cell phone off all the way first and tell your attorney in person, not through email. You may not know who planted the device, what sort of device it is, or if there is more than one. If you really want to get to the bottom of the situation, you must keep your suspicion to yourself. Otherwise, they may remove the device(s) before they can be found. This could mean that they plant the devices again later.
- Do not change up your routine too much unless you have a reason to be concerned for your physical safety. It is a scary situation to think that someone may be following or watching you for any reason. It is tempting to change up your routine. If you want to find the device and (hopefully) press charges, you will need to remain calm. You don’t want to tip them off. Stick to your routine (for now) as much as you can.
- Get to a safe location and call Spy Catchers at 1-800-373-8726 to schedule an appointment to have a professional come and sweep your home, office, and vehicle. The call and the estimate are both free. We want to help you regain your privacy and your peace of mind!