Skip to content

If you, like me, enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching 'Auditors' on YouTube but worry about one of them doorstepping your business, here's some advice on how to handle it…

Dealing with Video Auditors and Drone Pilots

🤔 What’s an auditor? 

An auditor (AKA public auditor, video auditor, YouTube auditor) is an individual who films public interactions and business operations from legally accessible places to assess and document the reactions of companies and their adherence to laws regarding public recording. 

🎥 Their aims (in theory) are good. They operate within the law, have a very good understanding of their rights and work to highlight transparency and accountability through their videos preaching the mantra “photography is not a crime”..

The other side of it that they rack up thousands of views, as invariably people from the businesses storm outside to challenge them, armed with no real knowledge of the law… and make a bit of tit of themselves.

As a videographer myself, I know the frustration of being challenged when filming in public (AKA doing my job) and cited non-existent laws that I’m breaking- so there’s a huge part of me that sadistically enjoys seeing some of the nastier people educated!

I’m also seeing some bad interactions involving the police, which highlights some worrying gaps in knowledge from some police officers on the laws of photography and drone usage in public. (Nearly all detainments and arrests end with an apology and compensation dished out to the auditor).

So whilst Auditors work within the law, you can also argue they are causing a nuisance. 

They are uninvited strangers, walking your perimeter and filming over and through fences.

Not many people or businesses I know would fail to challenge someone (on the face of it) that is acting in that manner. It looks suspicious!

Auditors also make money from these videos, which are monetised through YouTube and the social platforms they’re uploaded to. So they’re effectively making money from doorstepping businesses and embarrassing them in public. The reward for enticing a reaction from these businesses must be very high, as reactions equals views. Views equals money.

So, with all of that in mind, here’s my advice on what your rights are and what to do if someone rocks up to your business premises filming your building, windows and surrounding areas from outside of the property (on public land).

First of all, if you are able to- don’t engage them. 

Just leave them to it. The lack of reaction itself will likely render their video too boring to use.

If you do have to engage, remember that it’s very likely that you have no right to ask them to stop. As long as they aren’t trespassing, they are within the law. 

Pointing a camera at a commercial property from public is not against the law. (Businesses often cite GDPR as a reason to stop filming- yet the onus is on you as a business to protect your data, not individuals!) 

They fly a drone over and above your commercial property. Common sense might tell you that if it’s private property, you can refuse permission to allow that. 

Common sense is incorrect in this instance!

You don’t own the airspace above your private property! 

You have no legal right to make them stop a drone flight. (This assumes they’re flying a sub 250g drone, there are no CAA flight restrictions on the airspace, the pilot has a licence, the correct insurance and an operator ID applied to the drone. However, you don’t have the right to see evidence of any of that!)

It’s also important to remember that you have no right to privacy in public

If you approach an auditor whilst they’re filming they don’t need your permission to record you

Once you make the interaction, you are in the video! So with that in mind, if you are going to approach, be polite and respectful. 

Ask what their aim is. Offer advice and assistance. Be professional and courteous.

Don’t assume or guess the laws. They’ve done their research and you haven’t.

If you don’t cause a stir, it’s likely they won’t even use the video! The bad reactions get the views.

Now, here’s my nuclear option… 

You don’t want them hanging around? 

You don’t have time to deal with them? 

Your bosses want rid of them?

Find the biggest, most powerful portable speaker you have. Make sure it’s fully charged and connected to a device that can play some tunes. Now take the speaker outside and play some music as loudly as you can.

YouTube (and most social media platforms) scan all uploaded video files for copyrighted materials, including music. 

Any copyrighted music detected means that the video gets demonetised. 

The auditor makes no money from it! This makes it almost pointless for them to use online. 

So if you want to show them you have an understanding of what they’re doing, this is a great little shortcut. 

All within the law 🙂

Written by Kevin Owens, Creative Director of YourFilm.


  1. What specific laws or rights do auditors commonly rely on to conduct their activities legally when filming businesses?

Auditors typically rely on laws that allow filming in public spaces without the need for permission. This includes the general legal principle that there is no expectation of privacy in public areas, meaning that filming commercial properties from public land is not prohibited. Additionally, auditors often have a thorough understanding of their rights under local laws regarding photography and video recording, including drone usage. 

Their mantra is PINAC, aka, ‘photography is not a crime’ as they claim, correctly, that filming from public land, or taking a drone over private property (as the airspace cannot be owned, unless there are CAA flight restrictions) is perfectly legal activity. 

Also, if there is an implied ‘public right of access’, i.e., no gates or barriers blocking public access, then it is fair game, be it a police waiting room or a private business help desk.

  1. How do you suggest a business should react if an auditor approaches them but does not engage directly with them?

By ignoring the auditor, the business minimizes the risk of providing any dramatic reactions that the auditor can exploit for content. A non-engagement strategy leads to a lack of interesting footage, potentially making the video too dull to publish, which in turn diminishes its appeal and effectiveness.

  1. Can you explain more about how playing copyrighted music near an auditor can affect the monetization of their video content on YouTube?

Playing copyrighted music near an auditor can severely impact the auditor’s ability to monetise their video on YouTube. Platforms like YouTube use automated systems to detect copyrighted content within videos. If copyrighted music is detected in a video, the platform may demonetise the video, meaning the auditor cannot earn revenue from it. This tactic uses YouTube’s copyright policies to discourage auditors by removing the financial incentive, rendering the effort less worthwhile if the video cannot generate revenue.

  1. Who are your favourite auditors?

The two main auditors that I watch are DJ Audits and Auditing Britain

Both very different and both very entertaining. 

DJ Audits focuses on filming interesting businesses on industrial estates, approaching their property on his iconic orange e-bike and filming with his ridiculously high zoom handheld camcorder, body-worn GoPro and his drone. He’s very fair with people who approach him, often offering more information to people who approach him with respect and offer reciprocal information. 

Auditing Britain pounds the pavements of cities in the UK, mainly speaking to security guards and police officers, enters public spaces and police stations to test their handling of someone filming in these areas and is generally more of a funster.

Any questions for us? We'd love to chat!