What is considered illegal surveillance in PA?

When it comes to surveillance, there are a lot of gray areas. What one person may consider to be an invasion of privacy, another may see as a simple way to keep an eye on their property. In Pennsylvania, there are laws in place that dictate what is and is not considered legal when it comes to surveillance.

Generally speaking, surveillance is only illegal if it violates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that if you are in a public space, like a park or on the sidewalk, you do not have an expectation of privacy and can be legally recorded without your knowledge or consent. However, if you are in a private space, like your home or office, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy and can only be recorded if you give your consent.

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are being surveilled for the purpose of criminal investigations or national security, the law may be more lenient. Additionally, there are some types of surveillance that are always illegal, regardless of whether they violate your reasonable expectation of privacy. These include bugging someone’s phone line or planting a hidden camera in their home or office.

If you believe that you are being illegally surveilled, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The best course of action is to speak with an experienced attorney who can help determine whether your rights have been violated and what options are available to you.

Frequently Asked Question

  1. What is considered illegal surveillance in PA?

  2. You have a right to capture images in public places, but you don’t always have a right to record what people say. Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Law makes it illegal to record private conversations – which can include conversations in public places – without the consent of all parties to the conversation. [1]

  3. Can you video record someone without their consent in Pennsylvania?

  4. Pennsylvania recording law stipulates that it is a two-party consent state. In Pennsylvania, it is a criminal offense to use any device to record communications, whether they’re wire, oral or electronic, without the consent of everyone taking part in the conversation. [2]

  5. Are Ring cameras legal in PA?

  6. In Pennsylvania, a two-party consent state, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office considers audio recordings from Ring and other outdoor home surveillance devices admissible evidence, spokeswoman Jane Roh told Motherboard.30 Jan 2020 [3]

  7. Is Pennsylvania a 1 or 2 party consent state?

  8. Pennsylvania is a “two-party consent state” meaning that, under Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act, 18 Pa. C.S. §5701 et seq., recording a telephone call or conversation without both parties’ consent is illegal.3 Mar 2020 [4]

  9. Does a spouse have a right to privacy?

  10. You have the right to privacy in any relationship, including with your spouse, partner, and family. In any relationship, you have the right to keep a part of your life secret, no matter how trivial or how important, for the sole reason that you want to.1 Feb 2020 [5]


It is important to know the difference between legal and illegal surveillance in Pennsylvania. Illegal surveillance is a serious offense that can lead to criminal charges. If you are convicted of illegal surveillance, you could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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Sources –

  1. https://www.aclupa.org/en/know-your-rights/know-your-rights-when-taking-photos-and-making-video-and-audio-recordings
  2. https://recordinglaw.com/party-two-party-consent-states/pennsylvania-recording-laws/
  3. https://www.vice.com/en/article/3a8k79/do-ring-cameras-violate-wiretapping-laws-new-hampshire-is-about-to-find-out
  4. https://www.ezoldlaw.com/2020/03/do-not-record-that-call-or-conversation-it-is-illegal-in-pennsylvania-by-michelle-patrick-esq/
  5. https://www.verywellmind.com/secrets-in-marriage-2303980

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