You may not realize it but surveillance cameras exist almost everywhere. They are used on traffic signals, at intersections, inside stores, and in most businesses. In fact, if you are in public you may find yourself being recorded right now. However, those hidden cameras can be hardly seen. Because technology has improved and components have miniaturized so much in recent years, it has resulted in incredibly tiny cameras that are easily hidden or concealed. Some of these so-called ‘spy cameras’ can be purchased for as little as $20 or less and can be installed virtually anysswhere. A quick online browse of spy cameras is enlightening and it’s clear to see how easily you could be recorded by a hidden camera without your knowledge.
You may be thinking “Aren’t hidden cameras illegal?” and the answer is surprising. Laws vary from place to place but generally it is only illegal to place hidden cameras in places where one would have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” such as bathrooms, dressing rooms, and hotel rooms. Most other public places can legally install cameras both visible and hidden.
Although most surveillance is done in a legal and responsible manner for safety and crime prevention that doesn’t mean that some persons won’t carry out video recording for nefarious and unsavory intentions. The question is, how can one detect and protect themselves from hidden cameras in hotel rooms, changing rooms and other private places?
Your first line of defense against hidden cameras is awareness. When you find yourself in a hotel room or other private area take a good look around. First, look for glass or plastic domes on the ceiling that may contain commonly used surveillance cameras. But also understand that cameras can be hidden in many everyday devices such as smoke detectors, books, mirrors, electrical outlets, plants, lamps, clocks and other electronics. A careful examination of these objects may reveal suspicious wires, lights or lenses that are hallmarks of hidden cameras.
The next check to perform is to turn off the room lights and look for small red or green LED lights that some hidden cameras may be equipped with. Pay special attention to cracks or small holes in the walls that may conceal a camera. These quick checks may reveal a hastily hidden camera but for more thorough searches, there are better options including using your mobile phone or using a professional grade hidden camera detector.
[ANNKE Whiteboard Friday] How to detect hidden CCTV cameras : 5 Methods
Using your mobile phone to detect a hidden camera
Although not foolproof, using your mobile phone to detect hidden cameras can be effective. There are free apps that can be downloaded to help facilitate this method or it can be performed manually. To do so, turn off the room lights and turn on your phone’s camera. Although invisible to the human eye your phone camera can detect infrared lights often used by hidden cameras. They will show up as a bright pinpoint of light on your camera and indicate where a camera may be hidden. A second technique using the phone is to turn on the camera flash and shine it around a darkened room. Any camera lens may twinkle or flash with a reflection and can be detected.
Mobile phones also have the ability to pick up an electromagnetic field given off by electrical devices. This third technique involves making a call on your phone using the speakerphone feature then sweeping the room with the phone and listening for any static or clicking noise on the call. This interference can be the result of a camera transmitter and can help you detect a camera location.
Using a professional hidden camera detector
These devices can be much more effective than a mobile phone and generally work in one of two ways. First, they employ one or more flashing LED lights which can be used to detect even the tiniest reflection from a hidden camera. By slowly moving the device around the room using different angles, hidden camera lenses can be located and dealt with properly.
The second method employed by professional hidden camera detector is picking up the RF (radio frequencies) that are emitted by wireless hidden cameras. This is an essential technique used to detect the latest spy camera technologies that don’t require wires. When activated, the detector will beep or vibrate when it finds a signal. By sweeping the room and carefully zeroing in on the signal, a hidden camera can often be found.
These detectors are small enough to travel with and are extremely useful to ensure that you aren’t being recorded without your consent in private areas. They make a great addition to one’s travel gear and a hotel room or bathroom can be swept and verified as safe in a matter of minutes. In the case that you do find a hidden camera, it is better not to disturb it and instead alert the authorities or local police.
Remember, it’s not paranoia to be concerned about the presence of hidden cameras, it is simply an unfortunate fact of life. Using the techniques and tools presented here can help you to detect and protect yourself from hidden cameras and give you the peace of mind you deserve while staying in places that should be considered 100% private.