New York Tries To Extinguish Some Smoke Detector Cameras


The state of New York is cracking down on the use of surveillance cameras that look like smoke detectors. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says in a recent press release that he will investigate retailers selling smoke detector cameras in which the smoke detectors don’t function.

In February, Spitzer reached an agreement with Tonawanda, N.Y.-based electronic security retailer Spy Outlet to recall the non-functioning smoke-detector cameras it had sold and to discontinue the sale of such equipment. However, according to its Web site, Spy Outlet is continuing to sell smoke-detector cameras where the smoke detector does function.

“A smoke detector has one purpose and that is to protect people against fires,” Spitzer said in the press release. “Keeping non-working fire detectors with hidden cameras off the market protects the public from a false sense of security and a very real invasion of their privacy.”

New York passed a law in 2003 establishing criminal penalties for the use of an electronic device to capture visual images of a person where one had a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. “Stephanie’s Law” was passed following an incident where a Long Island woman was secretly videotaped by her landlord using a hidden video camera in a smoke detector above her bed.

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