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Fact Check: Are cameras in restrooms legal?

Posted: 5:29 PM, Oct 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-09 09:15:40-04
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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are new complaints about an old security camera inside a restroom of a Southside restaurant.

In 2016, KRIS 6 News reported on the camera, which is installed inside the men’s restroom at Wings N’ More near Staples and Wooldridge.

A viewer familiar with that report recently sent the newsroom images which suggest the camera had recently been moved. While Wings N’ More management refused an interview, they did confirm the same camera from 2016 is still installed, and it has not been moved.

Back in 2016, owner David Brimhall told KRIS 6 News the camera is there to ensure a wholesome and clean environment, and to protect his business from vandals.

But is it legal?

“The law outlaws recording without a person's consent or the intention to invade their privacy,” said Matt Manning, Nueces Co. First Assistant District Attorney.

The law is Sec. 21.15 of the Texas Penal Code . According to paragraph b, subsection 2, “a person commits an offense if, without the other person's consent and with intent to invade the privacy of the other person, the person photographs or by videotape or other electronic means records, broadcasts, or transmits a visual image of another in a bathroom or changing room."

There is a sign outside the restroom warning people, but paragraph h of the same law says a sign doesn't mean that the person being recorded consents.

“You could have people don't see the sign, you can have people who need to use the restroom but are not consenting but are nonetheless availing themselves,” said Manning. “Frankly the bigger issue is we go to a restroom to have privacy.”

Consent is part of the law, intent is the other.

In 2016 Brimhall told KRIS 6 News his intention isn't to invade privacy, but to protect his business.

He says the camera is pointed at the sink area, not the urinals or stalls. While Manning can't comment specifically on this camera, he believes a camera in a restroom is an invasion of privacy.

“The reality of it is, in a restroom in particular, there are times you may have something pointed a certain way, but you're nonetheless still able to see certain parts of the body,” Manning said.

The District Attorney’s office says it can't pursue this matter unless someone complains to either the D.A.'s office or the police.

CCPD did stop by Wings N' More Tuesday to check the camera out in response to our questions.

Recording in a restroom is a state jail felony, which carries a prison term of six months to two years.