Video Surveillance Laws: Video Retention Requirements by State

Given the falling price point, ease of use and increasing demand for constant surveillance, more and more companies are using video cameras for security. In some cases, organizations are required to.

Many industries across the United States are required by local or federal regulations to maintain visual security. And each of those rules comes with its own specific details. It can all get very confusing, but it is incumbent upon all affected organizations to know the applicable requirements.

From traditional areas (like banking and infrastructure) to higher-risk sectors (such as gaming and recreational cannabis), companies need reliable, modern video cameras. Depending upon the situation, footage from each camera often must be preserved for a specific amount of time.

Any company operating in a regulated area should check all the local mandates to ensure compliance. But the following overview of some of these laws can help any business operator understand the common requirements.

New York Video Retention Requirements: Banking and ATMs

While widespread surveillance has become more common over the past decade, banks are one area where consumers have long expected cameras to be recording all the time.

In fact, video monitoring is required by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the body that insures money in most banking institutions against theft or loss. The organization does not go into great depth about specific mandates. But part of its requirement for each bank includes “maintaining a camera that records activity in the banking office.”

The state of New York has also established an overarching “ATM Safety Act” intended to protect individuals using cash machines. Its security measures include a provision that ATMs must have at least one surveillance camera that can record anyone entering a facility if it is located in a building or “all activity occurring within a minimum of three feet in front of an automated teller machine located outside a building.”

In both cases, banks that operate ATMs must retain this footage for at least 45 days, according to the New York Department of Financial Services. Any reported violations of this requirement must be corrected within ten days. After this time, the institution becomes subject to fines of $2,000 per day if no solution is made. These fines can escalate further if the violation is “intentional,” “performed knowingly and with a reckless disregard,” or there is “a pattern of violations.”

Nevada Video Retention Requirements: Gaming and Casinos

Nevada is the only state where casino gambling and sports betting are legal across all jurisdictions, and the state gaming commission requires casinos in all locations, from Sin City to Reno, to maintain video surveillance.

However, the restrictions on retention in these world-renowned gaming palaces are less stringent than some other industries in other states—seeming to prioritize privacy over long shelf life.

“All video recordings of coverage provided by the dedicated cameras or motion-activated dedicated cameras required by these standards must be retained for a minimum of seven days,” per state law. And the rule extends that timeline to 30 days for “recordings of detentions and questioning by security personnel.”

Some federal regulations also govern the industry. Specifically in terms of gaming operations on Native American reservations, the Department of the Interior mandates that a “surveillance system shall be maintained and operated from a staffed surveillance room,” which must be located so that it “is not readily accessible by either gaming operation employees who work primarily on the casino floor, or the general public.”

In terms of footage retention, all recordings must be preserved for at least seven days. And as in Nevada, footage “involving suspected or confirmed gaming crimes, unlawful activity, or detentions by security personnel, must be retained for a minimum of thirty days.” Operators also must maintain a video library log that demonstrates “compliance with the storage, identification, and retention standards.”

California and Colorado Video Retention Requirements: Cannabis

Given the stigma still facing recreational marijuana laws, states have taken precautions to ensure security within the industry. While some locations have a public that is very tolerant of cannabis, officials crafting the laws are keenly aware of the negative press and fallout that comes with any high-profile incident.

California has established strict laws across the board and requires any company operating in its legalized marijuana industry to have security cameras and retain the footage from those cameras for at least 90 days as part of an overall security plan that is reviewed and approved by the state’s Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR).

The state also goes into more detail than most about the technical specifications required for recordings. The digital camera must record 24/7, at a minimum resolution of 1280×720 pixels and 15 frames per second, every day of the year.

Location is another factor that is covered. “Each camera shall be placed in a location that allows the camera to clearly record activity occurring within 20 feet of all points of entry and exits on the business premises, and allows for the clear and certain identification of any person and activities in all areas required to be filmed,” according to the state regulations.

Recordings are subject to inspection by the DCR. Any surveillance solution must also “be equipped with a notification system” that informs the operator “of any interruption or failure.”

While California is still new to the legal recreational marijuana world, Colorado’s laws go back the furthest of any state and helped set a standard. “All camera views of all limited access areas must be continuously recorded 24 hours a day,” says that law. “The use of motion detection is authorized when a licensee can demonstrate that monitored activities are adequately recorded.”

It requires companies to retain footage for 40 days and store it “in a format that can be easily assessed.” Recordings, with the date and time clearly displayed, must be stored in an archival system that “ensures authentication” of the footage as “legitimately captured” and with “no alteration.”

The state also mandates that, before selling an establishment, owners delete all retained recordings older than 40 days.

New York and Georgia Video Retention Requirements: Law Enforcement

There have been many high-profile, controversial incidents involving the use of force in recent years. With this in mind, police departments across the country are looking for ways to better ensure accountability. Body-worn video cameras (also known as bodycams), worn by officers of the law, have become popular nationwide. But there remains a heated debate about how to handle the footage.

New York City has established a six-month minimum on the retention of footage from bodycams by police officers—a duration that, due to concerns raised by privacy groups, was dropped from an initial one-year expectation.

Despite the privacy concerns of some experts, public surveys have suggested that citizens prefer a longer retention requirement. And as of last year, the NYPD was working under different requirements, depending upon the nature of the footage.

For any generic encounter with a member of the public (such as routine stops or witness interviews) video should be retained for six months, according to the latest policy. If the encounter was deemed “adversarial” this would be extended to 18 months. If there was a “use of force,” this becomes three years. Any footage pertaining to an arrest or civilian complaint would be retained until the case is fully concluded.

Georgia has set similar retention standards for police forces across the state, using a 180-day timeline for mandatory preservation. And recordings that are known to be related to incidents have those limits extended to two and a half years.

The state also has guidelines and standards for storage, security and recovery of any footage that is lost. Something it knows will be a challenge at small police offices that rely on “aging technology.”

“If police departments don’t allocate the resources required to manage their required use of body cameras, review footage to ensure compliance, and maintain storage and retrieval capabilities, then we could potentially create bigger problems in the aftermath of police shootings,” said Dan Beck, director of Local Government Risk Management Services (an agency within the Georgia Municipal Association), in a public statement.

Do Your Homework on Video Retention Requirements

These regulations represent but a few of the many rules governing the use of video surveillance in the United States. Whether you are operating in one of these sectors, or another highly-regulated industry—such as healthcare, insurance, energy, or infrastructure—make sure you are thoroughly prepared and informed.

As technology has advanced, so too have the specifications. Some standards are now very detailed and outline everything from camera location, to resolution, to video retention requirements. By knowing the rules in your area and using equipment and protocols that are up to the task, you can rest easier knowing that you won’t run afoul of the law.

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