Hidden Cameras, GPS Devices, and Audio Bugs in West Virginia: What Does the Law Say?
Living in beautiful West Virginia provides breathtaking views during every season. We often use technology to preserve these views for ourselves and to share with others through email, text message, and social media. While the goal of technology is to make our lives easier, there are people in the world who use hidden cameras, audio bugs, and GPS devices to track others. This may sound like something out of a James Bond movie, but it happens more often than you might want to think or believe. The question is: What does West Virginia law say? Is it legal to use these devices to spy on others without their knowledge or consent?
Hidden Camera Laws in West Virginia.
West Virginia relies on their voyeurism law, and their already existing one-party consent law to govern the use of hidden cameras. West Virginia’s voyeurism law states that a person cannot photo, video, or broadcast the private areas of a person without their consent. Their one-party consent law states that someone cannot be videoed without their consent. Hidden cameras cannot be placed in any area where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom, bedroom, hotel room, or changing room. In West Virginia, it’s not only a crime to record someone in a private place without their explicit consent, it’s illegal to install a hidden camera.
Exceptions to the use of a hidden camera or videoing another person includes public spaces. However, public spaces are not exempt from West Virginia’s voyeurism law. It’s generally legal to record or photograph someone in a public space since there is no expectation of privacy. Examples of public places include public parts, sidewalks, and restaurant patios.
Audio Bug Laws in West Virginia
West Virginia is considered a one-party consent state. West Virginia’s wiretapping and eavesdropping laws are complex and seem to combine elements of both one-party and two-party consent. One-party consent means that in a conversation involving at least two individuals, one of those individuals must give consent to have the conversation monitored or recorded. Despite the complexity of the law, West Virginia makes it clear that failure to get consent may result in a felony charge as well as civil litigation. It’s also illegal to possess a device that is primarily used to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications.
GPS Device Laws in West Virginia
GPS devices are used for getting directions or helping you out when you are in an accident. It’s also used by the courts and law enforcement to monitor the movement of suspects and those ordered to GPS monitoring by the court. Car dealerships and financial institutions also use GPS devices to track the car’s location until it is paid off. All of those uses are legal. We are specifically referring to unwanted and unacknowledged use of GPS devices on your vehicle. West Virginia law states that the use of GPS devices to gain the whereabouts of another person without their knowledge or consent is, at first, a misdemeanor charge coming with a possible prison sentence, and fines. After the second offense the crime is an automatic felony.
The Real Question: Are You at Risk?
How do you know you are at risk, and what could possibly make you a target? While most people don’t think they have any reason that someone may want to invade their privacy in this way, the sad truth is that it doesn’t take being a public figure or a controversial socialite for it to happen to you. Here are a the most common reasons this happens in West Virginia:
- You own a business. It could be anything from a small business to a large, multi-million-dollar corporation. If your business is getting clients, it could make others in the industry very nervous. Corporate espionage could include using a current or former employee to spy on your business, placing hidden cameras or audio bugs in your office or conference room, or using keyloggers and other devices to monitor your activity without your knowledge or consent. They may even monitor your phone calls (both land and cell), VOIP calls, web conferences, and even video conferences. Webcams and microphones are not excluded from this type of espionage. They may even be able to see all of your text messages and emails, whether professional or personal in nature.
- You are involved in a divorce or separation. Divorce and separation are never easy. It can lead to a lot of animosity. Your spouse could be monitoring your every conversation you have on your phone, in your home, in your car, or even online. They may be tracking your location through your cell phone, desktop, tablet, or laptop. They could be using this information in order to frighten or blackmail you. They could just be using this information in an attempt to ruin your reputation or even get you fired from your job.
- You’re involved in a child custody dispute. Even if you are not married, the other parent may be attempting to record something you say or do to try and use it against it you in court. They may be looking to prove you are an unfit parent or just attempting to use the information they obtain as a way of blackmail you. Very much like the two previous scenarios, your land line, cell phone, VOIP, webcam, and online activity are all subject to this type of intrusion. The current apps on the market right now are not hard to deploy. You may not ever notice them, either. Never think that any of your devices are totally safe unless you have them checked out by a professional.
- Being involved in settling an insurance claim or a lawsuit for an injury. The opposing side could be looking to take advantage of you and minimize the situation. They could be tracking your every movement, videoing you, or even listening to your conversations.
- You have a jealous, possessive, or abusive significant other. GPS devices, audio bugs, and hidden cameras as well as apps for cellular devices and keyloggers for computers and tablets are used more and more in situations where someone feels the need to control or abuse their partner. These devices can create a dangerous situation for the victim.
Think You’re Being Spied On?
If you live in West Virginia and think that someone may be spying on you, take these precautionary steps:
- Do not change up your routine too much. If you do, the person who planted the device or devices could be alerted. They may remove the device or devices before they can be found. While we know you certainly don’t want them there, you need them if you want to find out who is behind it so that you can talk to a lawyer about your potential legal rights.
- Do not talk about it with anyone. You don’t know how many devices there are or where they’re hidden. Talking about it could alert the person who is spying on you. It is important that you’re able to find the devices so that you may talk with the police and maybe even a lawyer to find out what you can do.
- Get to a safe location, use a safe phone, and call Spy Catchers at 1–800-373-8726. We provide free estimates in West Virginia. Our professionals can sweep your home, business, and vehicle to help you get back your peace of mind. We can help you discover and remove any hidden cameras, audio bugs, or GPS devices to help you regain your peace of mind and your privacy.