The British media recently reported that the retail giant Amazon is facing legal action in the United States. The case was brought by a woman who claims she was filmed in a restroom using a clothes hook camera purchased on Amazon. The privacy implications of such gadgets have raised concerns, with experts suggesting they may violate British legislation.
In the ongoing legal proceedings, a former exchange student aspiring to be an actor alleges that she was secretly recorded in her West Virginia home as a child, using a camera disguised as a clothes hook bought from Amazon. The trial for the suspected individual responsible is set to take place.
The complainant argues that Amazon should be held liable, asserting that the use of the camera was “foreseeable” to the company. Despite Amazon’s attempts to dismiss the case, the court has ruled against them.
The BBC’s investigation found similar listings on Amazon.co.uk, showcasing clothes hook cameras positioned in various settings, including a bathtub and a bedroom. The concern extends beyond clothes hook cameras, as other hidden cameras with potentially invasive uses were discovered on the platform.
Experts warn that the improper use of such cameras may violate several UK laws, including those related to harassment, child protection, voyeurism, sexual offenses, and human rights. Privacy partner Jaya Handa emphasized the legal frameworks surrounding privacy expectations within the home.
Campaigner Gina Martin, instrumental in the passage of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019, highlighted the disproportionate impact on females, especially young girls, who are often unknowingly filmed. Martin called for retailers to take more responsibility, stating that there are few situations where concealing filming is appropriate.
The sale and ownership of hidden cameras are legal, but Professor Leonie Tanczer of University College London argues that they are frequently misused against vulnerable groups and communities. The broader issue lies in the need for increased awareness and responsibility among retailers and consumers regarding the potential misuse of such surveillance devices.