Spy Camera Ethics, is it ethical to use one?

by | Spy Gear

Last Updated on March 10, 2021

older couple spyingAs technology has evolved, spy technology has continued to improve, and with that improvement, it has become more accessible to the general public, giving the best spy camera for instance, and with this accessibility has come more responsibility from the general public who now has the availability to use technology that was previously reserved for professionals and government agencies. 

Laws and government officials have had a hard time keeping up with these new changes and passing new legislation that can affect the distribution of these.

Today we’re going to analyze a few situations and walk through the ethics of each of these to find out whether you should go through with using spy tech and its ethical implications.

Again you may choose to ignore this and go ahead anyway these are just personal guidelines from a security expert, your mileage may vary.

We’re going to cover the following situations…

  • Intro Laws haven’t been passed
  • Family/ spouses are it a breach of trust
  • Spying on the nanny
  • Spying on employees
  • Dash cams
  • Spying for evidence

Laws have yet to be adopted.

drone going over hosues with spy camThere is a big issue here, and that is that federal laws have mostly left spy tech up to state institutions primarily in the United States where many lawyers are more based on the state’s legislature rather than national.

A lot of these laws have failed to keep up with the drastic changes in spy tech and still basically allow you to film and take undercover video as long as the subject is not in a compromised nude/sexual or blatantly defamatory situation. Since you can still be sued in this day and age for libel and harassment, it may not be worth uploading that defamatory youtube video if your in one of the states that frown upon that behavior.

A recent example of such a law frowning on even the press’s ability to record and distribute video was the recent lawsuit against Gawker by Hulk Hogan. The video evidence was filmed without his consent and passed to the journalist website Gawker and posted though it was censored for the site millions saw and go access to the video.

In the end, Gawker was sued out of existence and essentially destroyed and charged the revenue that Hogan may have made had he released the video himself. This was a massive lawsuit, and nationally televised some said that it was the death of free speech.

Regardless of being a celebrity with access to million-dollar lawyers or not you must be ready to have a person that catches you recording to prosecute you and possibly win dependent on what you record.

Family and spouses, is it a breach of trust?

spy drone in skyLet’s start with one of the most common uses of spy cams and that is infidelity. Sometimes you have trust issues with a spouse, and you need to be sure of what is going on. There are arguments on both sides. The ethical debate is if you trust your spouse you don’t need to spy on her and your spying is as big of a trust breach as infidelity if you don’t find something. Imagine you find nothing your spouse was utterly faithful to you, and they see your spy technology in the bedroom. This could be a marriage ender; most spouses would immediately end a relationship if they find this type of technology.

Also psychologically a guilty party that is low in confidence and nervous of most decisions tends to spy when they are committing some act.

However, another question crops up when you are sure without a doubt something is happening and need documentation for a divorce lawyer or keeping the children. This could be one of those points where you cross the ethical line and see the rewards outway the risks and decide to go ahead.

Spying on the nanny

spy camera on balconyIn recent news, there have been many instances of child abuse at the hands of an incompetent nanny. Just recently a mother of two that found bruises on her children’s back decides to install a nanny cam, what she saw shocked the world. The nanny was beating the children to make them stop crying after the video surfaced the nanny was promptly fired, and criminal charges were set forth.

With all this horrific news it’s no wonder many families are opting to install nanny cams.

The ethical question becomes do you tell your nanny or do you hide it. Telling the nanny, there are cameras could have a preventative effect and be more beneficial than hiding them often just the thought of there being someone watching could lead to your nanny being more careful and productive. All you need to do is productively break the news by telling the babysitter or nanny that you like to watch in on your child and have a look at them during the day and it has nothing to do with the nanny.

Hiding the camera becomes an ethical issue since it is a breach of trust between your caretaker and you. If you have so little faith in your nanny, you need to ask yourself why you have them there in the first place looking after your child. The next issue becomes if the nanny finds the hidden camera they will immediately feel betrayed and lied to possibly quitting. It’s not a pretty sight when someone finds out they are being spied on.

Spying on Employees

Cameras in the workplace are as old as cameras themselves. However, these days it’s easier to hide them with no knowledge from the employees themselves. The ethical issue is no longer whether you have cameras in the office it’s whether you can have hidden cameras without the employee’s knowledge.

Since you are the renter or owner of the property and have employees working for you, there is usually not a significant issue with having them.

Dash Cams

Cameras in cars are becoming more and more popular. In places such as Russia, Mexico, and China laws are geared towards pedestrians in every sense even if a pedestrian jumps out into the street and you hit him you are still at fault. This makes it incredibly easy for people to falsify injury and sue you for gaining wealth from their fake accidents. For this reason, dash cams have become more popular to catch people in the act and find anyone trying to falsify evidence about your crash.

There is not much of an ethical problem here since you are merely preventatively recording to make sure that someone without ethics will not try to hurt you.

Signing off

There are hundreds of different situations you can find yourself in, and we can’t cover them all. Sometimes you have to decide whether you should or will install a device and whether you will tell people about it. Looking at it from an empathy perspective you should put yourself into the other person’s shoes and see if it’s worth it and if it would be seen as a breach of trust.

Again if you’ve decided to go ahead and are looking for a great product we have put together some learning guides such as how to make a spy gadget down to the nitty-gritty of how a spy camera works. Until next time!

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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.