A Broward County jury recently awarded a women $476,000.00 in damages against her landlord. The landlord, a 60 year old IRS agent named Kenneth Ryals, rented one of the bedrooms in his townhouse to the woman. In her rental room was a miniature wireless video recording camera that Ryals had secretly installed to videotape her.
The female tenant sued Ryals for invasion of privacy. The woman discovered the hidden camera just before she was scheduled to move out of Ryals’ townhouse when she noticed a small hole was drilled into the front of the DVD player in the room. She called Davie Police who examined the device and discovered a wireless transmitting camera inside of the player.
Although Ryals confessed to the police that he was responsible for the camera, misdemeanor criminal charges were dropped by the Broward County State Attorneys Office.
This invasion of privacy case reminds us of how easy it is to secretly videotape someone with today’s electronic gadgets. Cameras and other digital recording devices are so small that they are easy to conceal. The potential for this type of invasion of our privacy is not a very comforting thought, given the availability of these types of devices and how cheap they are.
In Florida it is a crime to record an audio conversation without obtaining the prior consent of all the parties to the conversation. In cases involving video, however, there is no prior consent requirement for videotaping someone. Nevertheless, you are not allowed to invade the video subject’s privacy, which obviously the landlord did.
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