The shady practice of corporate espionage was highlighted in last week’s podcast on Pinsent Mason’s blog site www.out-law.com. The podcast features an interesting discussion on the legal merits of bugging – finding that it is possible to place a recording device in an office legally, but recording a phone conversation is a criminal offence.
Lawyer Victoria Southern says: “There’s nothing in any piece of legislation that stops you from putting a physical bug in a room, an office or something like that provided you are there lawfully and you haven’t committed any criminal offence to get access to it.”
The topic was broached in the wake of the bugging scandal at Hewlett-Packard in the US. But it’s not as simple as it seems – companies using any information obtained through bugging would be likely to come a cropper of data protection legislation.
“If the bug’s just been planted there and no one’s been told it’s recording the particular goings on in a room then there’s a good argument that the processing could be considered to be unfair,” the podcast said.