Hidden Mirror Surveillance Camera: Genius Or Lawsuit?

This product is a special at a national US distributor this month:

It essentially is a spot mirror with a covert analog camera hidden in the mount. I'm not sure why hiding the camera is necessary, mounting the camera below or adjacent to the mirror would offer the same benefit. The covert mount appears to invite legal trouble!

What do you think?

I am curious how often this is being used to do covert monitoring of the company's own employees? At least in this ad, it's directly aimed at the cashier.

Actually, in the ad, it's reflecting the woman standing on the checkout side.


Well, that's physically not possible. It seems to be photoshopped.

Not sure how this would be an issue any more than any other covert camera in a public place. Hidden cameras watching a paypoint or cash drawer are pretty commonplace in retail.

When I checked a couple of years ago, there were 14 states that had laws about covert surveillance cameras. Many (maybe most?) of the laws were about unannounced covert surveillance. I saw it asserted in a blog post or article that the reasonable expectation of privacy goes away if there is conspicuously posted notice of video surveillance.

Most of the laws were addressing employee rights to privacy, such as locker rooms and restrooms, although I think at least one of them covered clothing store changing rooms.

Does anyone know of someone who is tracking these state laws?

Ray, I found this link a couple years ago that links to electronic surveillance laws for most if not all of the US states.

I think most places in the Western world will have similar prohibitions on ANY kind of cameras in "private" areas like restrooms, change rooms, locker rooms, etc., regardless of signage. On the whole here, though, I think we're mainly talking about PUBLIC areas.

Many organizations, especially those with unions or part of the government, have restrictions on covert monitoring of employees. I've seen exceptions (e.g., if there is a clear reason / case), but general ongoing covert surveillance in these cases may violate agreements.


That's a great link! The page has a summary chart about whether or not the laws mention "electronic", "computer", "photo" or "video".

I should have said including locker rooms, rest rooms, and work or break areas where employees would have an expectation of privacy. Actually, there were more areas than that but I don't recall them specifically. At the time I also reviewed a few court rulings, that had to do with two things - whether or not the employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and whether or not the employer had a right to covertly surveil.

There is also the issue of when law enforcement requests covert surveillance, but I'm not an expert on all that stuff and new court rulings arrive every year.

The location of these mirrors is probably not where you would choose to locate a camera.

They claim this mirror is useful in warehouses and corridor intersections for 'collision avoidance', however it only measures 12" in diameter, and the short wide angle lens means it needs to be close to the subject to collect useful video. I can't see it being much help mounted at high elevations.

The reflection image they use is not physically possible.

Look at the angle of the view in relation to the 'register monitor', the blue counter area, and the lady customer.

To produce the angle of register monitor in relation to the blue counter area, the shot would have to come from the left of the cashier, shooting across to the right (to get the blue counter area to the right of the register monitor).

To produce the angle of lady customer in relation to the register monitor, the shot would have to come from the right of the cashier, shooting across to the left (to get the register monitor to appear in 'front' of the lady customer). Note: and the lady customer would be facing the opposite direction.

So where do they suggest you place the camera/mirror, and what is it supposed to actually be watching/recording?

Question: Does the 'average' person even notice this type of 'marketing enhancement'?

What I mean is, I think my brain is hard-wired to notice 'things that seem wrong' - based on my years in the trenches, troubleshooting and supporting various systems.

When I first viewed the image as I started reading the piece, it just 'felt' wrong, though I didn't really look any further until after I read the whole piece. Once I started looking at the components in the image, it was obviously not real.

Remember the Avigilon 'actual' image they used in that 'one camera sees all' campaign that was summarily trashed for using a similarly doctored image?

I'm curious what logic they use during the ad creation process... why not just show actual images?

Marty, that's because you are a jaded skeptic. Most people are not, and likely for the better.

Here's the logic:

  • Actual images look far less impressive, meaning people will be far less impressed.
  • Most people grow up in environments where trusting others is rationale and reasonable
  • Marketers violate this social contract with these tricks
  • They win, consumers lose, we protest

"Actual images look far less impressive, meaning people will be far less impressed."

Also, actual images don't look like people expect them to (thanks in part to Hollywood).