Let's say the owner of a coffee shop in California would like to add some surveillance cameras inside the shop, and one or two around the font and back door.

What laws, regulations and ordinances are applicable in this scenario?

1 Answer 1


First, the camera can't be in a restroom, shower, or gym locker room. Second, they can't be placed in an employee private place, such as a break room. They can be in an employees-only work area, which is not a "public area". They are mandatory in a cannabis dispensary. They are forbidden in a room where employees are undertaking union-organizing activities. You cannot trespass to install the recording device.

California is an all-party state w.r.t. recording communications, which means that you need the consent of everybody that is a party to a communication, in order to record it. Specifically:

Any person who, by means of any machine, instrument, or contrivance, or in any other manner, intentionally taps, or makes any unauthorized connection, whether physically, electrically, acoustically, inductively, or otherwise, with any telegraph or telephone wire, line, cable, or instrument, including the wire, line, cable, or instrument of any internal telephonic communication system, or who willfully and without the consent of all parties to the communication, or in any unauthorized manner, reads, or attempts to read, or to learn the contents or meaning of any message, report, or communication while the same is in transit or passing over any wire, line, or cable, or is being sent from, or received at any place within this state; or who uses, or attempts to use, in any manner, or for any purpose, or to communicate in any way, any information so obtained, or who aids, agrees with, employs, or conspires with any person or persons to unlawfully do, or permit, or cause to be done any of the acts or things mentioned above in this section, is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by both a fine and imprisonment in the county jail or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. If the person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section or Section 632, 632.5, 632.6, 632.7, or 636, the offense is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

Recording a person walking down a hall is not recording a communication. Video recording two people walking down the hall signing at each other is recording a conversation, and is illegal (the law is not stated in terms of "spoken language", it is in terms of any kind of communication). The escape route for a would-be recorder is to clearly announce that video is being recorded and therefore a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy (insofar as confidential communication "means any communication carried on in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties thereto, but excludes a communication made... in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded").

  • You are also asking for trouble if you record children without parents permission.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 5, 2023 at 1:44
  • @NeilMeyer, in the shop front door has the camera recording sign would be enough, if parents brings the children into shop?
    – Maxfield
    Apr 5, 2023 at 1:46
  • @NeilMeyer, How old is still considered as children, if they come in to buy coffee themself?
    – Maxfield
    Apr 5, 2023 at 1:48

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