As is true with the 50 states, the District of Columbia sets its own regulations on what can be video or audio recorded. Since this may affect your security system at your home or office, it is good to know the rules. Here are the regulations that commercial and residential properties are subject to in the District of Columbia (Washington DC).
Audio Recording Laws in Washington, DC
The District of Columbia is a one-party consent district. Therefore, you don’t need the permission of anyone else to record conversations that you are a part of. If you want to record someone else’s conversation, you will need consent from at least one party. If you are recording a phone conversation, and one of the parties is from another state, you may want to get consent from everyone just to be sure.
You are also allowed to record audio on your personal property as long as the purpose is for your own safety and security.
Video Surveillance Laws in DC
When it comes to video, the laws have more to do with circumstances than consent. For example, if an individual is engaging in sexual activities, naked, or in a bathroom, you must have informed consent in order to record. If you are monitoring your own property for safety and security, there should be signs noting this that are clearly visible. Continuing onto the property after seeing these signs serves as consent to being recorded. This would go for both commercial and residential structures. These signs should state whether the entire premises or designated portions of it are subject to video and/or audio recording.
So the important thing to keep in mind is the prominence of the signs. If the print is tiny or the signs are blocked by overgrown bushes, this could become a point of contention in a court of law. So be sure to let everyone know in no uncertain terms that they will be on your surveillance footage if they enter your property. This can also serve as a deterrent.
Residential and Commercial Surveillance in Washington, DC
While we have not outlined every detail of the laws here, you now have a general idea of what you can or cannot do with a home or business surveillance system. To learn more, contact Surveillance Secure. With nearly 15 years of experience in the surveillance industry, we can help you to find the optimal service for your home or business that meets legal requirements as well as your needs. Call 1.877.388.1248 to get started now.
Updates for 2021
Washington, DC remains a one-party consent audio recording district as of 2021, meaning only one party in the conversation must consent to the recording for it to take place. You must still post signs that the property is under surveillance when conducting video surveillance.
Additional Resources Regarding Washington, DC Surveillance Video and Audio Recording Legal Regulations:
- District of Columbia Recording Law. http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/district-columbia-recording-law
- State Audio and Visual Surveillance Laws. https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2018-NAR%20Surveillance-Survey-Update.pdf