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Spy cameras disguised as clothes hooks are for sale on Amazon, despite the firm being sued over the gadgets.

Controversial clothes hook spy cameras for sale on Amazon
Controversial clothes hook spy cameras for sale on Amazon

One clothes hook camera listing seen by the BBC features a picture of the device positioned in a bathroom.

A US judge recently ruled the retail giant must face a case brought by a woman who alleges she was filmed in the bathroom using a clothes hook camera purchased on Amazon.

A privacy expert has said the misuse of such devices may break British laws.

Amazon declined to comment on the issue.

The US legal action against the company was brought by a foreign exchange student and aspiring actress.

She alleges that while staying in a West Virginia home and still a child she was surreptitiously recorded in the bathroom using a camera disguised as a clothes hook, which she says was purchased on Amazon.

The man alleged to have been responsible is facing trial.

Her complaint to a United States District Court notes that the listing on Amazon, from where the camera had allegedly been purchased was illustrated with a picture of it being used to hang towels along with the phrase “it won’t attract attention”.

The complaint also alleges that the use of the camera was “foreseeable to Amazon” and seeks punitive damages against Amazon Inc, Amazon.com Services LLC and other unnamed defendants.

Amazon recently attempted unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed arguing, in very simple terms, that it wasn’t responsible for how the camera was used.

The BBC searched for similar cameras on Amazon.co.uk and found a number of listings.

One clothes hook camera product description showed it positioned over a bath, another image showed it beside a bed.

Another clothes hook camera has an illustration showing it positioned in a bedroom, and separately in a section displaying potential uses, has an image of a couple arguing with the text “cheating” superimposed.

There are other cameras for sale on the site, including:

  • an alarm clock hidden camera with an illustration showing footage being viewed on a phone of a clothed but amorous couple on a bed.
  • a camera disguised as a USB charger which has an image which shows it filming a couple indoors in a romantic embrace.
  • a camera hidden inside a smoke alarm which claims it could be used to help “monitor” an “unfaithful partner”.

There was even a “bathroom spy camera” disguised as a shower radio which although having no reviews and rather implausibly suggesting it might be of use to the CIA – raises questions about how such a listing can remain on Amazon.

Many of the cameras stress their usefulness in monitoring children or for security but experts warn misuse of the cameras could break a number of UK laws.

Jaya Handa, a privacy partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, told the BBC: “Given the expectation of privacy within the home, individuals could be committing a crime under a number of other legal frameworks including harassment, child protection, voyeurism, sexual offences or human rights laws.”

If videos were broadly shared there could also be data protection issues, she added.

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