So, what are the laws on operating a hidden camera?
It can be confusing knowing when operating a hidden camera is illegal but educating yourself on the strict rules, could stop you from being prosecuted for privacy invasions or Voyeurism and other criminal offences.
When you are implementing a security system or hidden camera in your home or business, inside or outside, for security and surveillance purposes, you may be wondering if there are any laws that you could be violating. Arming yourself with information could save for a lot of trouble.
Where can I use a hidden camera?
Under the UK Law, you are generally permitted to use spy cameras but only under certain conditions, for legitimate security reasons. Parts of the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act govern where you can and cannot use the spy cameras but it is legal to own one. Where a hidden camera is used, may be illegal, though.
You cannot fit a hidden camera to any property that you do not own but you can fit a spy camera in your own home, property or business but not in an area which is deemed as an area where a level of privacy is expected, like a bathroom, toilet, swimming pool, jacuzzi, changing room or bedroom. Unless the action has been sanctioned by the police. In this case, the operator needs to make sure that it is known that there is a hidden camera in place.
If you intend to fit a CCTV system on the outside of your property to capture any suspect behaviour, ensure that you look into the legalities, since any evidence that you have may not be used in court, if you haven't complied with the restrictions. Public CCTV is for protection not spying. You most definitely cannot have it pointed directly at someone else's property, to what is deemed as a private area like a bedroom, for instance, infringing on their right to privacy.
It is illegal to make sound recordings, like conversations between people in public, on CCTV networks and all CCTV recordings in public must be registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and an accompanying sign must be erected to let the public know that a camera is in use in your area.
Don't share hidden camera footage with a third party
Any footage recordings or still images gathered on CCTV or spy cameras cannot be uploaded, sold or livestreamed to the internet for entertainment or shared without permission (unless the sharing is to the police as part of an investigation) of the people in the footage, as this would be a breach of the Data Protection Act. Footage has to be kept safe and should only be retained for as long as is reasonably needed, unless it is needed legally.
So, in a nutshell, it is legal to own a spy camera to monitor, protect and keep an eye on say, babysitters, petsitters and employees but not a hidden camera in a private area and having a CCTV camera installed outside for security purposes.
It is illegal using a hidden camera:
- In a private area where privacy is expected
- In someone else's property
- For uploading any footage or livestreaming to the internet
- For releasing images to the media
- For any illegal or illegitimate reason
- To share with any third party, unless it is the police
- To record conversations between members of the public on CCTV
What can I do about removing a spycam video on the internet?
If you have been alerted to any hidden camera footage of yourself on the internet that you did not give permission to and you need hidden camera videos online removal or if you need any legal advice for hidden camera film removals and other footage removal off the internet, please give our internet lawyers at Cohen Davis a call - 0800-612-7211. We are here to help anyone with internet law and privacy concerns.
How do I check for a hidden camera?
To spot a hidden camera if you have any doubts about your privacy and where you are staying, or just so that you can be armed with how to spot hidden cameras for the future, please see the bottom of our article on secretly filmed video removal.