IP Cameras as NannyCams. Is it possible? Is It Ethical? Is It Legal?

Here at Jabbakam we are often asked about whether Jabbakam can be used as a nanny cam, particularly because Jabbakam live view and footage alerts can be viewed remotely using smartphones and other devices. Nanny cams continue to be one of the most popular ways that people use IP cameras and video surveillance technology.

There is not an easy answer to this question and it is not only about whether using IP camera technology and IP camera management systems to watch over the people that are watching over your children is possible – because it is…  but there are also bigger legal and ethical issues to consider.

Are Nanny cams Legal? Are Nanny cams ethical?

Laws concerning IP camera recording vary from place to place, country to country, and region to region. In the United States for example, according to experts at about.com and ugolog.com it is legal to use a hidden camera in all 50 states – however, in several states in the US, it is illegal to surreptitiously record someone’s voice. Many IP cameras and IP camera management systems like Jabbakam do not have audio capabilities but can be used when remote viewing and monitoring of video is what is essential.

In the UK, according to Kidshield.eu it is legal to use recording devices in your own home provided that the cameras not be used “in areas where people would expect to have reasonable privacy for example in bathrooms.”

Kidshield.eu writes:

In order to remain within the limitations of UK law, Kidshield would recommend that you inform your nanny that you may occasionally use a “nanny cam” to check in on your children – just don’t tell them where it is. In other EU countries we suggest that you consult legal advice before installing a nannycam.

Whether the use of nannycams is ethical is open for debate. Ethicists have been weighing in on this issue since video surveillance technology was made affordable to the masses and since the first case of a nanny abusing her charges was caught on hidden surveillance camera.

The debate rages on amongst ethicists with moderates suggesting that the only ethical way to employ a nannycam is to make sure the nanny knows you are recording her, much in the same way that employers notify employees that they may in fact be reading emails sent from office computers

Bruce Weinstein, an ethics analyst for CNN counters saying

“Just think about it: What kind of relationship would you have with someone that would prompt you to secretly record them with your children? If you really take the well-being of the child seriously to begin with, you would get someone who is so trustworthy you wouldn’t need to watch them in the first place.”