Baby cams, also known as nanny cams, are popular with parents today. The tiny, easy-to-hide devices help parents keep tabs on their kids while they’re away. State privacy and “wiretapping” laws differ, but for the most part, you’ll want to let buyers know upfront if there’s a chance they’ll be captured on one of these or other types of surveillance devices while they’re in the house.
The key issue is expectations of privacy. If you’re inside someone’s home, you have a right to expect a certain amount of privacy; if you’re outside—say on a public sidewalk—you can’t always expect the same level of privacy.
In a similar manner, if you’re recording a phone conversation, privacy expectations are relevant. People expect a phone conversation to be private, so you’ll want to let them know beforehand if you plan to tape the conversation to keep accurate notes or for other reasons.
Massachusetts's wiretapping law is often referred to as the "two-party consent" law. Under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99, it is a crime to secretly record a conversation, whether the conversation is in-person, taking place by telephone or via another medium (such as a secret video recording where sound is captured.) Thus, a prudent REALTOR® will make it their practice to ask a seller (or the listing agent if representing a buyer client) if there are any recording devices in the home and to inform all parties to a telephone call or conversation that they may be or are being recorded, unless it is absolutely clear to everyone involved that the recording is not "secret".
It should be noted that recording without sound is not unlawful under Massachusetts law. However, best practice would suggest that buyers and their agents be informed about any video recording devices – with or without audio. Under Massachusetts's wiretapping law, if a party to a conversation is or has been made aware that their conversation is being recorded and does not want to be recorded, it is up to that person to leave the conversation.
Privacy issues that involve REALTORS® are illustrated in this Voice for Real Estate video
from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The video shares excerpts from a recent video by NAR’s Legal Affairs division on what you need to know about surveillance cameras when you’re showing a house or recording a phone conversation with customers or clients.