Hidden microphones mounted on CCTV cameras are to be banned under a new code of practice being launched by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas.
The Information Commissioner believes that the camera microphones, some of which which can listen in to private conversations up to 100 yards away, are a serious breach of civil liberties.
The new code of practice will state that no organisation should monitor or store private conversations. This will include employers who listen in to private conversations between members of staff.
It is believed that the code of practice has strong support from both government ministers and civil liberties campaigners.
The ruling is also likely to be welcomed by members of the general public, as research carried out by ICM for the Information Commissioner’s office found that 70 per cent of people opposed the idea of CCTV cameras recording conversations.
Under the new rules, the use of cameras to record voices would be allowed only in extremely special circumstances, including the detection of crime.
There are around 4.5 million CCTV cameras in Britain, one for about every 14 people, which capture the average person around 300 times a day.