Before we get into the rules and regulations regarding covert CCTV or ‘secret surveillance cameras’, you may want to know what these systems are and what they do.
What are covert CCTV systems?
Essentially, a hidden or disguised camera. They can come in the form of miniature cameras that can be clipped onto your clothes, often showcased on TV programs such as Rogue Traders. Or, you can buy a covert CCTV system that is disguised as a smoke detector, intruder alarm or even a clock!
Before you consider purchasing a hidden surveillance camera, hiding it in a teddy bear and using it to spy on the new baby sitter, continue reading for the rules and regulations.
Can I use a covert surveillance system in and around my home?
The Data Protection Act 1998 strictly imposes rules about the use of images and video footage of innocent individuals going about their own business. Section 36 of the DPA states that:
“Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles…”
So, in other words, you are free to place as many secret cameras in your property as you like -as long as they are only capturing footage of your property.
However, using them outside of your property is a different story.
If you wanted to add any CCTV system to the outside of your property to capture activity on your drive way and surrounding areas, you may be breaching the DPA. The act indicates that recording innocent civilians, who aren’t considered suspicious or criminal, is refusing them the right to privacy.
Outdoor CCTV systems should only be capturing footage on your property, so ensure that neighbouring houses and strangers in the street are not being recorded.
Hidden cameras in the workplace
On the other hand, hidden cameras in your workplace can get you in serious trouble. As is goes, regular overt CCTV systems can be used within the workplace as long as all employees are fully aware and a sign is displayed.
A covert hidden camera should only be used in the case that the business owner suspects a specific crime, such as theft, and intends to involve the police. Otherwise, secret monitoring will amount to unlawful infringement of a worker’s human rights in the workplace. Under the Human Rights Act 1998, individuals have the right to private life and private correspondence.
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