You may have enjoyed, as most people do, short films made with a Candid
Camera. Entertaining, sometimes funny, occasionally cruel, these films show a
made-up situation where a mischievous interviewer prods unaware citizens to
react to a gentle, teasing provocation.
The point is that this amusing, na誰ve, spontaneous behavior is recorded by an
unseen, hidden camera, while the object of the trick does not know that his/her
leg is being pulled for future public entertainment.
There may be another, secular use of hidden cameras, not for fun but for
surveillance. While nobody, except appointed authorities, should undertake this
task on his own in public places, in the privacy of a home or an office the
practice is tolerated, provided it is not meant to breach anybody's privacy.
The question whether the use of a covert camera for surveillance in a private
home is legitimate and justified should be considered seriously in advance by
anybody thinking of implementing it.
It may be risky to carry out hidden surveillance in borderline or clearly
forbidden cases, because every hidden camera can be exposed quite easily if a
search is undertaken. In any case ignorance of the law in this respect is
In fact, improper spying on the privacy of anyone is a prosecutable offense
almost always condemned by judiciary authorities.
In practice, in one's home, the only cases where operation of a surveillance
camera disguised into a familiar object is admitted are those where there is a
legitimate suspect of improper conduct on the part of people hired to engage in
some domestic activity but not fully relied upon.
Honest people would obviously resent such a lack of confidence, and may feel
offended if and when the presence of surveillance equipment intended to check
their behavior is disclosed. Misbehaving helpers caught by a camera in any
improper action have only themselves to blame.
In a shop or office there may be justification for use of covert cameras if
there is a need to uncover shoplifting or recurring thefts. This delicate task
however could be better entrusted to professional detectives, extraneous to
interpersonal work relationship.
However the same purpose could be achieved more acceptably by operating the
cameras in full view. Their presence would even work as a powerful deterrent of
We already expressed elsewhere our view against the temptation to use this
technology to spy on the family, even in difficult situations. In our opinion
every effort should be made to try to face the problems openly, possibly with
So, even if these new surveillance cameras are easily concealed and operated,
one should think twice of the risks in advance. One should also consider if the
use is justified and legitimate and if any good is going to be obtained from the