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Methods: bugging and recording
It is never acceptable to plant an unattended recording device on private property without permission of the owner, occupier, or their agent unless for the purpose of gaining evidence of serious crime.
Recording telephone conversations for broadcasting without the permission of at least one of the parties involved in the call is illegal in the United Kingdom.
If you wish to record a telephone call you make, for possible broadcasting, you must seek permission of the other party in advance.
As well as the use of concealed equipment, surreptitious recording includes using long lenses to record people who do not know the camera is present.
Using small cameras to give the impression of recording for purposes other than broadcasting or to conceal the camera from the individual being filmed also falls within the definition, as does recording for broadcast which is carried out openly but without its end purpose being declared to those being recorded.
Surreptitious recording is normally allowed only for one of the following purposes:
- investigating matters which raise issues of serious anti-social or criminal behaviour, where there is reasonable prior evidence of such behaviour and where an open approach is unlikely to succeed
- gathering material which could not be gathered openly in countries where there are restrictions on fundamental freedoms and democracy
- social research where no other methods would be effective. In such cases, any individual who is clearly identifiable in the recording must give permission for use of the material, or, if this is denied, their identity must be obscured effectively.
Webcams should only be used for clear editorial reasons. Anyone considering using a webcam should think carefully in advance about privacy and consent issues, and seek advice where appropriate.
For example, webcams should not be installed to capture close-up images of private areas such as houses, gardens or offices without the written permission of the owner.
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