Locker Room Surveillance Video Raises Privacy Concerns

Suspected thief caught on camera, doused with flour

A gym’s plan to catch a suspected locker thief is raising concerns about privacy.

While members worked out at Vida Fitness in northwest D.C. last week, someone was scoping out their lockers, apparently in search of credit cards.

So management installed surveillance cameras, put members on notice with signs saying cameras were in use and rigged one of the lockers with a cheap lock and a pile of flour inside. One person fell for it and got his workout by bolting from the gym covered in flour. 

The gym has a photocopy of the driver’s license the man checked in with at the front desk, and police are looking for a suspect.

The surveillance videos are only viewed in the event of an incident and only by members of the same sex as those in the locker room in question, a Vida spokesman said.

In Maryland, it’s murky whether the locker room surveillance would be legal, according to ACLU officials. State code says people “may not conduct visual surveillance of an individual in a private place without consent of that individual.”

Virginia law only seems to address secret videotaping, outlawing spying through a peephole into a locker room or other locations where you expect to have privacy.

”As a general matter we think that privacy is becoming less and less secure in a million ways,” said Art Spitzer, of the ACLU. “It’s surveillance cameras, it's GPS-tracking devices, it's keystroke-tracking devices on your office computer, and we’d like to see the American people in general care about their privacy and protect it.”

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