Security Video and Liability

When I first saw the YouTube video of the woman in a Pennsylvania Mall falling into a fountain while texting, it reminded me of some other posts about liability and security video.

There are many cases where the value of security video footage lies in its ability to defend against potential liability. At first blush, this is one of those cases: a (potential) law suit claiming a property owner created a dangerous condition (e.g., low wall, wet floors, debris on walk). However, the security video shows a different story. In this case, the pedestrian was clearly distracted by a cell phone, offering the property managers a solid response to a law suit.

In this case, here is the twist: the video security footage was captured on an employee’s cell phone and distributed over the Internet with a laugh track. Not surprisingly, it went viral. So now that pedestrian is looking at a legal case not for the conditions that contributed to her fall (she admitted she was texting), but for the emotional impact of the release of the security video.

While not a typical situation, it illustrates how security material can be misused by employees, becoming a potential liability for employers. Security-related information can be sensitive and, if copied and transferred, can go viral before management is even aware of an issue. 

Whether it has to do with access control logs or video, make sure you limit access to sensitive material and have employees with access understand policies specifically put in place addressing these types of situations, and have them acknowledge the policies in writing.