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Proactive Privacy Tips for Live-Streaming Public Meetings

Posted on October 31, 2019
Written by Conner Biolsi
Tags: Communication, Websites

New York Industrial Development Agencies must live stream their meetings. What does that mean for members’ privacy?


Effective January 2020, New York State Senate Bill S88 mandates that Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) live stream and store videos of their public meetings on their websites. This is no longer optional for IDAs, it is the law. Does this infringe on people’s privacy? Well, according to New York State Law, no. There is no law preventing agencies from recording public meetings for live broadcast and later reproduction. That said, those in attendance should know and understand that the meetings will be recorded.

Considering this, we believe it is important for Industrial Development Agencies to be proactive about notifying all meeting participants that they will be recorded. Here are a few examples that explain why this would be beneficial:

SOME PEOPLE WILL NOT APPRECIATE BEING RECORDED. EVEN THOUGH YOU AREN’T DOING ANYTHING ILLEGAL (IN FACT, NOT RECORDING WOULD BE ILLEGAL AFTER DECEMBER), SOME PEOPLE MAY NOT LIKE IT. THEY MAY FEEL THAT THEIR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED, PARTICULARLY IF THEY WERE NOT AWARE OF IT BEFOREHAND.

SOME PEOPLE DO NOT BEHAVE OR COMMUNICATE IN A WAY THAT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO HAVE REPLAYED FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE, OUTBURSTS OF ANGER, OFFHANDED COMMENTS OR CRUDE HUMOR CAN SET YOU AND THE RABBLE-ROUSERS UP FOR A MESSY SITUATION.

SOME PEOPLE MAY HAVE SENSITIVE JOBS AND, DUE TO LEGITIMATE CONCERNS, AVOID HAVING THEIR FACE IN THE PUBLIC EYE.

While it is impossible to anticipate every situation, you can wisely reduce risk and prevent problems at the door. We suggest the following three actions as a solid start towards a smoother, friendlier transition to live streaming meetings as an IDA:

1. POST SIGNAGE – ALERT

As people enter your meeting room, make signage available that states that the meeting is being streamed live and will be published on the website. Use the links below to download our free, printable PDF disclaimer posters.

Download (8.5×11)                Download (11×17)

2. ATTENDANCE SHEET – AGREEMENT

Have an attendance or sign-in sheet with a disclaimer at the top. For example: “I understand that this meeting must be recorded to be in compliance with NYS Senate Bill S88. My participation in said meeting signifies my understanding and consent to be recorded on a video that will be publicly available for a period of at least 5 years, in accordance to the law.”

3. PSA BEFORE MEETING – ADVISORY

Before the meeting, begin with a PSA such as, “According to NYS Senate Law S88, we are required to live stream this meeting. A copy of it will remain on our website for at least five years. If you do not wish to be recorded or shown on the internet, you are invited to leave the room now before the meeting begins.”

With these three steps you will have notified people of the law, let them know that it was not necessarily your IDA’s idea, gave them a chance to leave, and obtained a signature of consent. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong or illegal about recording public meetings; the state has made this a requirement. However, it would show responsibility and consideration for your members and attendees to take some proactive steps. This is certainly a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

NOTE: while the law does say that the meetings need to be recorded, it does not explicitly state that everyone in the meeting needs to be on camera. Off-camera seating for those with legitimate concerns for privacy may be appropriate. However, if such accomodations were to be made, it would be wise to make very clear boundaries as to what would or would not be considered legitimate reasons to be seated off-camera.