Although the installation of home CCTV itself doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) you may still have cause for concern.
If the installation has been carried out incorrectly, or is being used for a purpose other than for which it was designed, then you may find yourself in hot water..
The rules and regulations for covert cameras differ from overt (clearly visible) systems. We've answered some of your most frequently asked questions so that you can make the right choice.
First things first - what is a covert camera?
It's a camera that has been hidden or disguised.
You may be familiar with the popular TV show Rogue Traders, where people go undercover to expose crooks and seek justice.
The majority of the footage in that programme is captured by the tiny covert cameras that are hidden in the shirt buttons, collars and eye-glasses of the undercover team.
These days, covert cameras can be disguised in all manner of household objects including:
Can I freely use covert CCTV in my home?
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) imposes strict rules about the use of video footage containing innocent individuals. However, 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…”
(Correct as of January 2018)
In short, you are free to place as many secret cameras in your home as you like - as long as they are only capturing footage of your personal, family or household affairs.
The lines blur when you want to ensure the new child minder is following your strict bed-time rules or the cleaner isn't taking change from the drawer.
We would recommend that you seek professional legal advice before using covert cameras to spy on individuals who visit your home.
The devil is in the detail!
Using cameras outside your home is another story altogether...
Covert cameras outside the home
It is crucial when installing an exterior CCTV system to understand the regulations stated in the DPA. You cannot capture footage of innocent civilians who are not considered suspicious or criminal.
If you do, you are denying their right to privacy. (See also Human Rights Act 1998)
Whether your exterior CCTV system is covert or overt, it should be positioned in a way that only captures video footage of your property. It's critical you ensure that neighbours and strangers in the street are not being recorded.
This is a great example of why you should have your CCTV system installed by a professional who understands the laws and can fit your system correctly the first time round.
Do you really need a covert surveillance system?
Usually, covert surveillance is only used when criminal activity is suspected. Hidden cameras can be installed around the home, or workplace, in accordance with a police investigation to gather evidence that can later be referenced in court.
So it begs the question: do you really need a covert CCTV system for your home?
If your intention is just to have recorded video footage that you can watch on the go, then a regular smart home CCTV system is probably the way to go.
Either way, whether you decide you want a covert surveillance system or regular home CCTV, it is crucial to choose an accredited security installer for the job.
Beat the burglars once and for all!!!