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Wireless Cameras – What’s Legal And What’s Not?

Adrian Mudd   July 26, 2009

At Spy Equipment UK, we have pretty much always had a range of wireless WiFi Spy Cameras in our range of Spy Cam solutions. As the consumer demands more powerful and innovative solutions, so the wireless WiFi spy camera has been developed to accommodate at least some of those needs.

Lets make a number of things perfectly clear. In the UK, by law, wireless WiFi spy cameras are restricted in a number of ways. They have limitations on power output and frequency of transmission. In the USA, these cameras are able to transmit on a number of frequencies around the 1.2GHz range, whilst in the UK, we are restricted to a number frequencies on the 2.4GHz range. In the UK output power is kept to a maximum of 10 milliwatts in comparison to our US counterparts who not uncommonly are able to broadcast using transmitter output power of 1 Watt or above. The result is that in the UK transmission ranges have a claimed maximum of 100 metres. Let’s not forget that this distance can only be achieved under optimum conditions with line of site, so even this maximum figure is almost a dream. In the USA using a powerful 1.2GHz transmitter, broadcast distances of several miles are easily achievable. On top of these criteria, wireless Wifi spy cameras also need to be RoHS and CE approved.

RoHS Compliance

These Regulations implement EU Directive 2002/95 which bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.

CE Approval

This determines the extent to which the product complies with the essential requirements for design and manufacturing in the applicable EU directive(s). The letters ‘CE’ are the abbreviation of French phrase ‘Conformité Européene’ which literately means ‘European Conformity’. The term initially used was ‘EC Mark’ and it was officially replaced by ‘€œCE Marking’€ in the Directive 93/68/EEC in 1993.

OK, so the WiFi spy cameras have to comply with certain EU tests and directives, but some may ask, why the other restrictions. Well, in the UK certain radio transmission frequency ranges have been allotted for various needs. GSM frequencies in the UK ate 800MHz and 1800MHz, our FM radios transmit on a frequency range between 87KHz to 108KHz, then we have Police, Ambulance, Fire, Air, Nautical wavebands to name but a few.

In short, the radio frequencies have been divided up this way to ensure that lawful one transmission is not affected another lawful transmission. Pirate Radio Stations are a classic example that breach this legislation. Use of 1.2GHz WiFi Spy Cameras with a high output power would breach this same legislation, which is policed and enforced by OFCOM (Office of Communications).

Beware. If caught selling, offering for sale or using illegal wireless WiFi spy cameras in the UK may mean a visit from OFCOM resulting in confiscation of the equipment in question and any other equipment that is reasonably suspected to breach any of the directives. If prosecuted then fines of several thousands of pounds plus court costs may be the eventual outcome. Contact us to learn more about the rules of these hidden cameras. Alternatively, you can do some further reading by accessing our spy equipment laws page.