Sen. Cathy Young Wants To Make It Illegal To Video Neighbors Yards

August 16, 2017

ALBANY, NY – State Senator Cathy Young (R, Olean) wants Governor Cuomo to sign her legislation (S.870-A) that would allow homeowners and tenants harassed or threatened by neighbors who videotape their backyards without their consent to have a course of action to deter such behavior. Sen. Young says that the bill allows for a private right of action, stems from a case that occurred in Senator Young’s district a few years before, when her office received a call for help from a distraught mother. “This family was desperately seeking relief because they felt endangered and unsafe in their own home. Their next-door neighbor, who they learned was a registered sex offender that spent several years in prison, had trained a video camera on their backyard and was taping their children as they played. Their kids were the same ages as the ones the sex offender had victimized. Obviously, if a sexual predator who has a history of abusing children is so fixated on youngsters that he is surveilling and videotaping them, it probably meant that he had nefarious intent. It was a horrible violation of their personal space. This family became prisoners in their own home, and no longer could enjoy their property. Regrettably, the local police department said there was nothing they could do because the law did not address such situations, and that is when this family turned to me,” Senator Young said.

“Although we passed Stephanie’s Law in 2003 to establish criminal penalties for voyeurs unlawfully videotaping in private areas such as bedrooms, locker areas and restrooms, there was nowhere in the law that addressed people’s backyards. There was a huge loophole that had to be closed,” she said. “Victims need to have the right to sue for damages for unauthorized video imaging of a residential premise with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, or property of another person, and done without the property owner’s consent. It would be a deterrent against unacceptable behavior,” Senator Young said. Young has passed the legislation in the Senate for several years, but it always stalled in the Assembly. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, who garnered the support to pass it for the first time this year, and Governor Cuomo has until August 21 to sign it into law.

“My hat is off to Assemblyman Braunstein for his leadership, and I appreciate the strong efforts of Assemblymen Andy Goodell, Joe Giglio and Joe Errigo. The Governor has shown that he is concerned about public safety, so I am hopeful he will support it too,” Senator Young said. “This law will protect people. Everyone should have the right to have privacy and feel safe on their own properties without fear or dread. Homeowners and tenants need a course of action if they are faced with circumstances that make them uncomfortable,” Senator Young said.

This bill would not affect drones because they are federally regulated.