When you buy a Ring doorbell, camera or alarm system, Ring warning decals come in the box – such as stickers that say “Attention: Ring Audio & video recording“.
These are designed to be put in your window, and in theory they should ward off would-be criminals. But are they really a good thing to put up? After all, they’re advertising the exact security system you use – potentially allowing criminals to exploit them. Despite this, some areas and countries require you to say when you’re recording the public with CCTV-style systems.
Hence I wanted to write this article to clear up the confusion about whether you should – or must – put these Ring warning decals up.
Putting up video/alarm warning stickers can deter some would-be burglars, although advertising that you have a Ring system (using Ring’s own stickers) might not be a good idea. In addition, some areas require you to put up warning signs, so be sure to double check this.
That’s the general summary, but read on for more detailed information on this slightly boring but ultimately very important topic!
Ring recording warning stickers
When you buy a Ring security device (whether it’s a smart doorbell, stick-up cam or their alarm system), you’ll get Ring decals with the Ring logo and a warning message printed on both sides. These have a sticky side, so they can easily be stuck in a window or similar surface:
If you have bought a few Ring devices, you’ll probably have loads of these Ring stickers – but you’ll only need to display one or two of them in visible spots on your property. That is, of course, if you decide to actually put up the Ring stickers…
“Don’t put them up, they’re a security flaw”
When looking at whether to put up CCTV or smart camera warning stickers, some people argue that you should never use the sticker or sign that comes with your device.
This is because it’s then advertising the specific brand of CCTV or smart camera/doorbell that you’re using. If there’s then a recently-discovered flaw with your brand of security device, burglars might target your property because they’ll know that they can disable or circumvent your security system.
That’s the argument, at least. However I disagree with this for a couple of reasons:
- It’s often quite obvious what brand of security device is in use with or without a sticker, especially with Ring and Nest devices because it’s clearly printed on the device itself!
A burglar isn’t going to see your Ring Doorbell Pro and act baffled, thinking “Hmm, I know this says ‘Ring’ and I’ve seen this type of doorbell loads, but I suddenly have no clue what device is installed here“. It just doesn’t make sense! Which brings me onto my next point…
- Almost half of all burglaries (at least 41%) are unplanned. A burglar might target a specific neighborhood, but then they’ll just go house to house and see if anyone forgot to lock their door (or left a window open).
A burglar won’t go around an area with a clipboard, diligently documenting the exact security systems that each house uses, and then go home and research known security flaws in each security system each night.
Of course if they did do this, such an organized burglar will find their way into your property if they really wanted to – no matter whether or not your camera’s brand is advertised.
The reality is that if a security flaw is found in Ring Doorbells, you won’t suddenly see a sharp rise in Ring protected houses being targeted.
On that basis, I have no problem with personally putting up my Ring warning sticker. Which brings me onto the next argument (one which I agree with):
“Do put them up, it stops burglars”
This is my personal view. A CCTV/smart camera warning sticker or sign is a deterrent. It’s showing a would-be burglar that you’re organized, and that you have some anti-theft measures in place.
This will stop some burglars.
As I mentioned earlier, many crimes are unplanned – it’s often a single bloke checking doors in the middle of the night. But if they see your lit-up Ring Doorbell, or any other security system, they might get scared off your property.
Notice how I say ‘some’ and ‘might’? There are some burglars who’ll just cover their face and break in to a house regardless.
I know that’s not a nice thought, but it’s the truth. Sometimes a security camera or smart doorbell won’t stop burglars – and hence neither would a warning sticker in your window.
But I’m not aiming to deter those sort of burglars. So I’ve chosen to put a Ring warning sticker in my window to deter the other sort of burglars. Of course, for some people and businesses, a warning sticker or sign is a legal requirement and not a choice:
“Do put them up, it’s a legal requirement!”
This article has so far only spoken about whether you should put warning stickers up. In some cases, it’s a legal requirement to warn the public when you’re recording on/around your property – so the question then moves from should to must!
Whilst there’s no federal law requiring these, some municipalities have passed local ordinances that mandate video security signs or stickers being put up, so do some local searches or speak to some neighbors. Whilst not a hard and fast rule, if you see lots of homes with video warning stickers around your neighborhood, maybe you do live in an area with a relevant ordinance in place.
If you’re a business, the rules are likely to be stricter in terms of placement, but some of the common sense aspects (such as always giving a reasonable expectation of privacy, and therefore not putting cameras in bathrooms, bedrooms etc) still apply. A sign or sticker is still not usually a legal requirement, but I’m not a lawyer and America’s a big place, so do check your local laws.
Outside of America, the rules on camera stickers/signs can vary:
- In the United Kingdom, you don’t need to warn people if you are filming on your own private property. However if your cameras also cover public areas (parks, footpaths or other people’s houses/gardens), putting up a warning sticker is a good idea – and possibly a legal requirement.
Many houses use Ring systems without putting the stickers up, and no enforcement action is taken – but the gist seems to be that if you’re mainly recording public footpaths and roads, it’s worth putting the sticker up.
Commercial properties do, however, need to display warning signs in all cases.
- Japan, which some consider to be the surveillance capital of the world, has a lot of security cameras (from officials, businesses and private households) when you walk around busy urban areas, but comparatively few warning signs. There doesn’t appear to be any legal requirement to display them in Japan, but please contact me if you find otherwise.
- France has some strict rules for businesses who want to put up security cameras, in a law passed in 1995 which says that CCTV installs must be planned and permission must be sought with the préfecture, and then a sign must be displayed in clear view of the area which is being recorded.
A later clarification says that this rule doesn’t apply to purely private areas – such as a homeowner who is recording their own property and no private land. However if your Ring camera also records public areas, you should be putting a relevant warning sticker up.