Stalin on privacy

Stalin on privacy

Summary: The Wireless Camera Hunter is a handheld, video Walkman-size device that automatically detects and shows (it's got a 2.5-inch screen) video transmissions in the 900MHz to 2.

TOPICS: Hardware

The Wireless Camera Hunter is a handheld, video Walkman-size device that automatically detects and shows (it's got a 2.5-inch screen) video transmissions in the 900MHz to 2.52 GHz range--the range used by nanny-cams as well as "secret spy" surveillance cameras. (Several online stores stock a wide variety of this sort of technology. It's worth checking out if only for the creepy feeling you get when you realize that people--perhaps even your neighbors--actually buy and use this stuff. Search on "spy camera.") As far as I can tell, the Hunter (and, presumably, the cameras) have no audio channel--these are silent movies.

So what?

This ought to be disturbing, I suppose, but I can't get excited about it. Yes, my baby monitor is now compromised, but most of the time it shows a soundless video feed of an empty crib. You might as well be using your $500 device to stare at a really tiny B&W photograph of a stuffed bear and a blanket with Gerber stains on it. Now, I've heard stories of people with audio baby monitors eavesdropping on fights held in front of neighbors' transmitters (when the two devices inadvertently share a channel). That's disturbing, I admit. But most of the time, most of us aren't fighting--we're just getting along with our quotidian concerns, talking about whether to rotate the tires and whose turn it is to cook.

And so we come to our primary protection in an age of increasing vulnerability to surveillance: The spy's desire to listen to something interesting. By which I mean: Most of us (I include myself firmly in this category) are just too uninteresting to be worth overhearing. As Josef Stalin might have put it, "The boring have nothing to fear."

Topic: Hardware

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  • Boring is no longer a refuge ...

    Governments and corporations already have the automated tools for recognition and data mining that filter out the "boring" in favor of the interesting. There are amazing advances in speech recognition, face recognition, and situational analysis. Is someone shoplifting vs. just looking at an item? Now there is software that can tell the difference...

    Some of these tools are appearing down at the end-user level. Modern PCs have the CPU horsepower to crunch the data. Some of the applications that had "legitimate" uses have been put to quite ingenious twists: you can find software that was originally meant to *filter* porn that is now adapted to seek it out on everything from Myspace to webcam feeds.

    Sophisticated burglars have learned how to tap everything from baby monitors to home WIFI signals to know who's home, what they are doing, and what might be worth stealing in the house.

    Easy-to-use technology does not automatically translate to "safe", any gun owner can tell you that.
    terry flores
  • Silent

    It is against the law to record conversations - that's why people tell you that "this conversation may be recorded - for quality purposes!". This law existed before video, so its not against any law to video record people.
    Roger Ramjet
    • No

      What did this guy get nabbed for if video recording people is OK?
  • I don't know where to start

    You sir are the primary reason why privacy is in such danger today, from theft of identities to theft of personal wealth using the internet and other electronic surveillance methods. Big brother and matchstick men are your best friends I suppose.

    I am stunned and not surprised at the same time by your ho hum reaction to loss of privacy. I get the same attitude from home PC users I help get up and running on occasion. When I open a discussion on security and privacy concerns, they don't want to be bothered and generally don't care if their privacy is compromised. That attitude is more scary than Stalin himself.

    I suppose innocence is really not a fault possessed, but an active attitude of denial, a personal failure to recognize that which is intrinsically evil. I find your perspective terrifying only in the sense of your failure as a citizen to secure that which is held private and sacred. And I find your attitude on the subject more offensive than the act of infringing on our privacy, simply because you, by your view, have provided full permission to the thieves, government and others to observe.

    I leave you with this. Study it, memorize it and understand its meaning in all its glory. Our lives depend on it. Really:

    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.