Question: I have just had a security system with cameras installed around my house. It is not motion detected, but rather runs 24/7. Is it a problem to use on Shabbos?
Answer: A few years ago there was a big discussion about whether it was permitted to go to the kosel on Shabbos as doing so entailed going through security and being filmed. The Yated reported that R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv prohibited visiting the kosel on Shabbos as he was concerned that the surveillance video was being permanently saved to disk. It isn’t clear that he prohibited the use of surveillance cameras, however. R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 9:35) allowed one to go as the cameras are running irrelevant as to whether anyone walks in front of them or not.
R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 10:60) wrote that one may visit someone in hospital even if that means passing by a security camera, though one should avoid it if possible. It would follow that he doesn’t allow residents to operate surveillance cameras on Shabbos.
Other Poskim are more lenient as such filming cannot be considered permanent writing. R’ Yitzchok Halperin (Yeshurun 11) writes that such cameras aren’t even forbidden miderabanan.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (in a letter to R’ Yisroel Rozen of the Tzomet Institute) wrote that as the data is not being permanently recorded, it is at worst a derabanan. Although the cameras operate for security purposes, the passerby does not benefit from being photographed. One only benefits from the system when there’s an unwelcome intruder. Thus, R' Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:247) writes that one may walk in front of a camera on Shabbos as this is a case of pesik reisha delo nicha lei (see Shulchan Aruch OC 320:18) which is permitted in a rabbinic prohibition. Likewise, one may operate a surveillance camera. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Ateres Shlomo 6, p57) concurs.