Saturday, December 31, 2005

Who is Watching Us

I found this story on Lycos by Ann Harrison about activisim in Europe directed towards having our movements recorded on video.

"BERLIN -- When the Austrian government passed a law this year allowing police to install closed-circuit surveillance cameras in public spaces without a court order, the Austrian civil liberties group Quintessenz vowed to watch the watchers.

Members of the organization worked out a way to intercept the camera images with an inexpensive, 1-GHz satellite receiver. The signal could then be descrambled using hardware designed to enhance copy-protected video as it's transferred from DVD to VHS tape.

The Quintessenz activists then began figuring out how to blind the cameras with balloons, lasers and infrared devices." For the full story read: Hackers Rebel Against Spy Cams.

Not only are there concerns with government agencies, but with all the digital cameras (including a vast array of hidden ones available over the internet), it is becoming very easy for anyone to spy on whomever they want. For anyone interested in viewing any of these products, here is a place to see them, Private Investigators Mall.

Digital cameras inside devices like telephones are also creating a privacy issue.

In December, Alex Eckelberry (CEO, Sunbelt Software) and author of the Sunbelt BLOG did a post on UK Government to track every vehicle.

His comment was "Gulp" and a quote from George Orwell:

“On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move.” —Orwell

There is a tremendous amount of privacy issues that stem from this technology, which seems available to anyone. Additionally, anyone who has actually used this technology to solve crime could tell you that the criminals and it seems (hackers) already know how to cover their tracks. This can simply be done with rudimentary disguise techniques and as stated in Ann Harrison's article (hacking methods), which leave the recordings useless.

With the technology readily available, it is also being used to assist the criminal element in their illicit endeavors. From wireless devices being attached to ATM machines, which include (hidden cameras) to clerks using their camera phones to record credit card numbers, this technology is already providing new ways to victimize the innocent.

Here is a previous post I did on skimming debit card information, ATM Machines That Clone Your Card.

I'm not questioning the fact that video technology has it's uses, but as usual, we must consider what the abuse implications of this technology. Time and time again, it seems that laws to protect the innocent, can't keep up with the rapid pace in which technology grows in the world today.

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