Wireless micro camera for covert video surveillance

Wireless micro camera for covert video surveillance

There is a lot of video surveillance equipment on the market, including something that causes a lot of controversy. We are talking about small and micro cameras for covert surveillance. Today I want to talk about spy devices and the legality of their use. Let’s dot the i’s, cross the t’s and explore a secure alternative to covert video monitoring.

Which cameras are considered to be micro covert surveillance cameras?

Thanks to enterprising Chinese manufacturers and shops with free shipping, each of us, in theory, can become an owner of any item. A micro camera for covert video surveillance in the form of a keychain, wristwatch or a pen is no exception. The topic of ordering such a product does not raise questions, but the issue of receiving the product and using it is extremely controversial. I will explain the reasons.

The issues of import/export of special technical means, which are intended for the secret collection of information, are regulated by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 214 (dated March 10, 2000). This document says that the category of prohibited photo-video equipment includes:

  • all recording devices that look like household items or camouflaged as everyday household items;
  • all devices with a pin hole;
  • all cameras that have photo and video capabilities at an illumination of 0.01 lux or less, or have the ability to operate on a matrix of 0.0001 lux or less.

But the law does not identify video recording devices built into alarm sensors (burglar, fire) as hidden cameras (since these items are not household items). The electronic door peephole will also not be hidden equipment, since it does not extend out. And, based on the list, there is no prohibition on installing lenses in ceilings or walls as they are parts of buildings, not household items.

It is clear that this list has long been outdated with rapid progress in the field of technology, and the criteria according to which the status of prohibited special means is established are simply ridiculous. And, based on the list, an ordinary smartphone with a video camera can be counted among the means “disguised as household items”?

Is it legal to buy, sell and use covert surveillance cameras?

According to the current legislation, and in particular the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and Articles 137, 138, 138.1, liability, for the secret collection of information about the private life of citizens, as well as for the manufacture, purchase, sale and use of “special means”, is criminal!

Under the “secret collection” of information they mean photo and video recording, wiretapping, viewing correspondence (postal, telegraphic and other) without the consent of the citizen.

Also, on the basis of the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 170 (dated 01.07.1996), licensing of the activities of both legal entities and individuals is required for the development, manufacture, purchase, sale of special technical equipment for obtaining information secretly. In other words, in the absence of a license, it will be illegal even if you bought the product exclusively for personal needs. And only persons and organizations authorized to carry out criminal intelligence have the right to use covert video surveillance cameras in the Russian Federation. According to Federal Law No. 144, Art. 13, only employees of power structures, such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, FSB, FSO, FSIN, federal customs authorities and others, can freely buy, sell and use this equipment.

Use in public places

Prerequisites for the use of any CCTV cameras in public places are:

  • availability of posters about video cameras;
  • strict ban of recording equipment in bathrooms and dressing rooms.

If we talk about placing cameras in entrances of apartment buildings, then hidden equipment is prohibited. Ordinary cameras can be used, provided that the above requirements are met and the person responsible for viewing and preserving the video recordings is appointed (written consent of at least two thirds of the owners is required).

Use in enterprises

According to the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, Art. 21, employees of enterprises have the right to receive reliable information about all conditions of the workplace. Therefore, if there is a video surveillance system at the enterprise, employees must be notified of this before signing an employment contract. Also, you need to obtain written consent from employees for photo and video filming. Having placed mini cameras for surveillance, the characteristics of which fall under the hidden ones and those that are clearly visible, it is imperative to place posters that cameras are working.

Home covert surveillance

If unauthorized persons, except for household members (neighbors, service personnel, construction team, tutors) get into the cameras, they must be notified of the ongoing filming with warning signs and signing a corresponding document. Also, this issue can be reflected in the contract for the provision of services. In this case, cameras can be hidden.

A safe and legal alternative to spyware is the cloud service from Faceter. You only need 2 or more smartphones/tablets, a mobile application (for phones based on Android – the application is here, for iOS – here). Place one phone in the surveillance area, as a camera, display a notice about filming, and take the second phone with you. It will work as a mobile monitor.

Legal force of information received from covert cameras

A wireless micro camera for video surveillance may turn out to be a Trojan horse for its owner. Based on the Procedural Code of the Russian Federation, Art. 55, part 2, the illegally obtained video recording has no probative value in court. That is, an unscrupulous employee or a thief/murderer/rapist captured by the camera can avoid disciplinary, administrative or criminal liability. And at the same time, criminal penalties may be applied to the equipment owner.

Criminal liability for illegal purchase, sale and use of covert equipment

Covert video surveillance can lead to the following court sanctions:

  • fines for citizens who have organized the production, purchase and sale of covert video surveillance devices – up to 200 thousand rubles or in the amount of monthly income up to 18 months;
  • imprisonment – up to 4 years or up to 4 years + inability to hold certain positions for up to 3 years;
  • compulsory labor – up to 4 years or up to 4 years + inability to hold certain positions for up to 3 years.
  • dismantling of the equipment at the expense of the offender;
  • compensation for damage to someone else’s property at the expense of the offender.

What can happen if you buy equipment on a Chinese website?

The current practice says that with a high degree of probability the buyer of spy equipment from China will face the following course of events:

  1. Detention at the post office upon receipt.
  2. Arrest and delivery to the police station.
  3. Hours of interrogation.
  4. Charge under Art. 138.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
  5. Investigation and trial.
  6. Punishment/acquittal.

Summing up

Dear readers, be careful! Micro cameras for covert video surveillance and their analogs can bring more problems than benefits, according to the current legislation of the Russian Federation. As a safe alternative, you can use the Faceter wireless cloud service, which can be used everywhere, in everyday life and business, on the streets and indoors. In addition, cloud video surveillance has the latest intelligent analytics. Details on the website at https://faceter.cam/ru.


Александр Вебер

Alexander Weber

Specialist in video surveillance, video analytics, cloud storage systems. Consultant on the integration of video surveillance systems and tools in various business sectors. Over 10 years of industry experience.

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