Guidance: Body-worn cameras ('go-pros') and microphones
Editorial Guidelines issues
This guidance note relates to the following Editorial Guidelines:
See Editorial Guidelines Section 7: Privacy and Consent 7.3.1-7.3.6, Secret Recording 7.3.10-7.3.21, Tag Along Raids 7.3.40
- Fairness to Contributors and Consent
See Editorial Guidelines Section 6 Fairness to Contributors and Consent: Right of Reply 6.3.38-6.3.41, Anonymity 6.3.26-6.3.31
- Reporting Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
See Editorial Guidelines Section 8 Reporting Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour: Investigations into Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour 8.3.39
- When body cameras such as “GoPros”, and/or microphones, are worn to gather material, anyone who might be recorded should normally be aware they are being used.
- When gathering material for News, Current Affairs and Factual programmes the use of body worn cameras and microphones may not be apparent, so ways of alerting those who may be recorded should be considered.
- If individuals are not aware they are being recorded by body worn cameras or microphones this amounts to secret recording.
- Secret recording must have an editorial and public interest justification which warrants the breach of privacy. Appropriate approval for secret recording must be obtained in advance.
- The Guidelines state that: Any proposal to equip third parties with body-worn cameras and microphones where to do so might infringe the privacy of an individual or where the third party is entering private premises without permission must be referred in advance to Director Editorial Policy and Standards, who will consider: the public interest in the material gathered in this way; what measures have been taken to ensure that there is no unjustified infringement of privacy; whether there is adequate technical provision for ensuring that the recording equipment is under the BBC’s control.
(See Editorial Guidelines Section 7 Privacy: 7.3.24)
- Great care should be taken over the use of body camera material and microphones and other material recorded on unobtrusive devices and supplied by third parties. There may be issues of privacy, accuracy, anonymity, offence, or legal issues such as defamation, contempt of court or data protection.
Small body cameras like “GoPros” are a valuable addition to the programme makers’ tool kit. They enable the gathering of footage from places and in situations large cameras may not have access to. They are also very useful for providing additional angles and point of view perspectives. They can be particularly useful for programmes from all genres when attached to participants or presenters. Everyone taking part should be aware of the cameras and consent to their use. Most commonly the body worn camera is attached to the chest of the person wearing it. It can also be attached to head gear or worn as glasses. It captures action and events in the wearer’s field of view.
However, material gathered by body worn cameras may breach people’s privacy.
If they are being used and there is no opportunity to communicate their use, and there is no accompanying ‘traditional’ camera, an individual may not be aware that they are being filmed at all. Such filming would therefore be considered secret recording.
The following Guidance applies equally to other unobtrusive devices used for recording such as microphones and mobile phones.
Body Worn Cameras and Microphones Used By Production Teams
When making content that involves wearing body cameras it is important that those being filmed are made aware of it so that they can give their consent.
This can be achieved by putting up notices in the area or telling anyone present before filming commences that body cameras are being used. If prior notification is not going to be possible because of the nature of the recording, then secret recording approval must be obtained in advance. If it is clear that filming is taking place, for example where a main camera is also being used simultaneously, then secret recording approval is not required.
Third Parties Wearing Body Cameras and Microphones on the BBC's Behalf
The Guidelines state that:
Any proposal to equip third parties with body-worn cameras and microphones where to do so might infringe the privacy of an individual or where the third party is entering private premises without permission must be referred in advance to Director Editorial Policy and Standards, who will consider: the public interest in the material gathered in this way; what measures have been taken to ensure that there is no unjustified infringement of privacy; whether there is adequate technical provision for ensuring that the recording equipment is under the BBC’s control.
There may be occasions when for safety or operational reasons that it is appropriate to give third parties body cameras in order to gather content on the BBC’s behalf. This might apply for example to fire fighters or others carrying out dangerous work, or entering restricted areas. Subjects of observational documentaries, such as the police or paramedics, may be given body worn cameras to show their work from their point of view. There must be a public interest in material gathered in such circumstances and privacy and consent must be respected. Editorial Policy should be consulted at an early stage in the process, and before filming commences.
Any proposal, unusually, to equip third parties entering private premises without permission with body worn cameras and microphones must be referred to the Director of Editorial Policy and Standards in advance. Typically this includes the Police, Trading Standards officers, Immigration or Environmental Health Officers, and staff of HMRC. Normally such a proposal would be made in the context of a tag-along raid where the third party is accompanied by our own production staff carrying visible cameras, who announce themselves at the earliest opportunity to ensure people understand they are filming and recording for broadcast on the BBC. Normally individuals encountered on private premises in such circumstances have the right to refuse consent for filming.
If consent is given but any third parties wearing body cameras and microphones become separated from the main camera, there is a risk that the individual who has consented will not realise that other recordings are taking place elsewhere for which they have not consented. On separation, the body camera and microphone should be turned off immediately or the people on the premises should be informed that third parties are also recording on behalf of the BBC.
Normally the camera operator would leave immediately if consent is not given, unless there is a public interest justification to remain and continue filming.
When the production team deems it necessary to withdraw with their main camera, the cameras and microphones worn by third parties should be switched off because the subject is entitled to believe that the withdrawal of the BBC means there is no further recording of them on their premises.
Secret filming during a tag along raid would not normally be justifiable.
Material from Third Party Body Cameras and Other Unobtrusive Devices
Many organisations such as the police use body worn cameras for their own evidence gathering purposes and may offer to supply their material for use by the BBC. When such material is used, it must be in the public interest and appropriately labelled.
Other material recorded and offered by third parties may include CCTV or webcam footage, and footage recorded on mobile phones or other unobtrusive personal devices when the individuals filmed were not aware they were being recorded . In such cases it is important to consider issues of privacy (including whether the material has been secretly recorded) as well as accuracy, anonymity, offence, and legal issues such as defamation, contempt of court or data protection. Special care should be taken over material supplied by lobby groups or organizations with a vested interest in a story . Such material should normally be labelled.
Ownership of Material
Provided we are producing and directing the use of the body camera and we are responsible for arranging the recording, we will normally be the owners of the copyright in the footage. In exceptional circumstances, however, there is a risk that third parties may claim they own copyright in body camera footage. If a third party may be involved in producing or directing any filming with body cameras seek advice from the Intellectual Property Legal Department.
Last updated July 2019