A hidden camera or spy camera or security camera is a still or video camera used to record people without their knowledge. The term “hidden camera” is commonly used in reality TV shows, sometimes when subjects are unaware that they are being recorded, and sometimes with their knowledge and consent. The term “spy camera” is generally used when the subject would normally be expected to object to being recorded as an invasion of their privacy. The term “security camera” is commonly used to provide a justification for a surreptitious recording, and can be contrasted with CCTV, which is visible and which sometimes is accompanied with a warning notice of its presence.
The camera may be “hidden” because it is not visible to the subject being filmed, or is disguised as another object. Such a camera may not be visible to the subject, for example, because it is fitted with a long-focus lens and located beyond the view of the subject, or located, say, behind a two-way mirror. Hidden cameras can be built into commonly used objects such as television sets, smoke detectors, clock radios, motion detectors, ball caps, plants, and mobile phones. Hidden cameras may be used for household surveillance and may also be used commercially or industrially as security cameras. The proliferation and lower costs of video recording devices has led to an increase in the use of hidden cameras for legitimate surveillance need, as well as for entertainment and other purposes.
The use of hidden cameras raises personal privacy issues and there may be legal aspects to consider, depending on the jurisdiction in which use takes place.
A hidden camera can be wired or wireless. The former will be connected by cable to a viewing or recording device, such as a TV, VCR, network video recorder (NVR), digital video recorder (DVR), memory card or other data storage medium; whereas a wireless hidden camera can transmit a video signal to a receiver within a small radius, where the images may be viewed or recorded. Hidden cameras may also have an audio capability. A hidden camera may be activated manually, by remote control or be connected to a motion detector.