Is a public elevator a private space? Commercial elevator installers in NJ know how the rapid development of surveillance technology affects elevator privacy.

The doors close and you stand there in silence, totally alone. But as several incidents have revealed, that is not the case. Since the rules governing surveillance in elevators are no different from the laws about cameras on private property, many elevators have cameras installed as a matter of course. That trend is certain to increase as cameras get smaller and cheaper.

Ironically, cameras often record video without audio, because the latter can run afoul of wiretapping consent laws.

Surveillance in elevators has safety value, of course. Yet it’s also something we need to get used to. Some have suggested signs in elevators.

However, it’s likely we will rapidly adjust. There was once a time when people were unnerved when telephone numbers could be traced. Now, it’s the opposite: people are unnerved if the number hasn’t been traced and they don’t know who is calling. And callers expect the person picking up to know who they are unannounced.

Could this transformation be happening for cameras? Will we get to the point where people will refuse to enter a commercial elevator unless it has a camera? Stranger things have happened.