When Does Surveillance Become An Invasion Of Privacy? Part One

Author xlxmarketing 23.4.2008. | 09:28

Is there a China surveillance camera watching you right now? Who knows. In this day in age it seems that we are being watched over, listened to or monitored almost at every time in our everyday life and with new technology coming out which can monitor brain patterns and read emotions the future is scarier than ever. But when exactly does surveillance become privacy invasion?

street with surveillance

Spy surveillance cameras have become an everyday part of our lives…there’s a surveillance camera, wireless spy camera or hidden spy camera in our homes, our offices, our schools and libraries… they’re even all over the street (csmonitor.com/2004/0206/p07s02-woeu.html).

There’s also the software that monitors your actions at work, ISPs that throttle bit-torrent downloads and watch your online activities, not to mention all the GPS spy gadgets that will track your every move.

While people have largely accepted the extra eyes as a form of security, three questions need to be asked:

  • What surveillance camera technology is out there right now?
  • How widespread is the use of wireless spy cameras and hidden spy cameras and other spy gadgets?
  • What is people’s reaction to the surveillance and do we need to be concerned about the privacy implications?

So what exactly is out there today?

The Watchtower - CCTV Security Camera with SONY Interline CCD 4X BNC Wireless Audio Camera + AV Receiver - 50 Meter Range
Inspection Surveillance Video Camera - Flexible Pinhole Camera screw cam with ccd sensor

Just some of the spy cameras and surveillance cameras available to the public today

There’s no doubt at all the technology driving surveillance equipment has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last five years.

It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to have a hidden spy camera in your clothing you had to convince the person that, yes baseball caps were really that tall and they really had a shiny piece of glass in the middle too, but now this is a completely different story and cameras can be hidden in almost anything.

spy cap hidden recorder

Spot the camera in this spy cap.

The size isn’t the only thing that has changed. The only type of surveillance camera that guaranteed a decent image in dark areas, where light levels were 1 lux or less was to use a black and white camera, now, thanks to infra red led lamps, most color surveillance and spy cameras will handle those light levels with ease.

The method of delivery has changed too with wireless spy cameras and internet/computer-driven systems becoming increasingly available.

All of these developments have lead to many homes and businesses installing at least one surveillance camera into their homes and offices to track the activities of customers, family members, staff and visitors.

Has there been any backlash to this?

The right to privacy has traditionally been one of the most upheld appanage in many countries. It’s the fourth amendment of the US Bill of Rights, and is part of the UK’s Magna Carta. There are still is a vocal part of society who often voice their opposition to the level of information and the amount of knowledge that people can have over a persons’ movement.

Some are even so concerned about the level of surveillance that they have turned to technology to create devices to fight back against the surveillance and annoyances of life in this day and age.

mobile phone blocking bag
portable gps mobile phone jammer

Just some of the spy gadgets people have used to combat what they see as a pervasive problem of over surveillance

The issue of surveillance and use of spy cameras hasn’t only been of concern in the real world perhaps the biggest backlash has been at the level of surveillance carried out online.

As a result of the privacy issues that more powerful search engines like Google throw up there has been an increasing study on how to remove or obscure unflattering search results (wikihow.com/Ungoogle-Yourself) and stop ISPs or other agencies from watching you while carrying out bit torrent downloads (lifehacker.com/372633/protect-your-privacy-when-downloading).

America’s homeland security bill, in particular, has raised the ire of many rights and privacy activists in the US, with recent moves by the US administration (eff.org/deeplinks/2006/08/worlds-worst-internet-laws-sneaking-through-senate) to ratify an international treaty with similar aims looking like it will cause just as much consternation.

Click Here for part two which looks at the future of government surveillance and how society will react to it.

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Author xlxmarketing 23.4.2008. | 09:28
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  1. LaDonna September 19, 06:25

    My neighbor has there home survailance camera pointed at my house and property. She thinks little people are coming out of the ground and putting worms in her pots!! The police will not do anything about it. I have to prove it a live feed on the internet. and it not hidden. I say it mounded camera pointed at my house and property it should be invasion of privacy. To top it off it pointed in my kids bedroom window and they are 12 and 14. I live in IL and as of now there not much I do without having to hire a lawyer and spend $3600 to file a suit for them to take it down. I heard some place that the light from the remote for cable,tv ect. can ruin a camera is that true?
    I need help to rid of this without me getting arrested!

  2. Michelle December 13, 07:01

    I am having the same problem with my neighbor. He has 2 cameras pointed at me and my kids. The police cant do anything. Neither can code or building enforcement. I am literally going crazy!!! He has even shown my ex video of my current boyfriend leaving my house!!! Hell, if my ex wasnt a stable man, god only knows what could have happened!!! Almost every thought I have is about how I can get those cameras down. He can see every angle of my home! I feel completely stripped of all privacy. How can I get those dam cameras down!!!!!

  3. Cleve November 7, 01:28

    My neighbors had numerous cop visits, and I had been burglarised, so I looked at the daily sheriff’s online police logs. I found the neighbors names on the dates of the cop visits. Then I went to the superior court online site and searched those names for criminal cases, and found I was living next to a bunch of convicted felon meth addicts, car thieves, and robbers who were on probation, and who had cases currently in prosecution. The meth dealing traffic was constant. It was out of a private home, so cop investigation was very slow. So, I got eight video security cameras and put cameras on everything in the public view and on my property fence line. I backed up my complaints to community code compliance with stills from the video. 95% of the dealing traffic has stopped in two months. The swaggering, pimp-roll walking, loudmouthed felons have moved to another neighborhood.

  4. SamLin November 19, 21:30

    Nice, that sounds very effective.

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