Cameras, Privacy And The Law

from the what's-it-all-mean dept

Found over at Alan Reiter’s Camera Phone Report is this story written by a Kansas City Star columnist talking about how everyone’s overreacting to the “dangers” of camera phones by worrying about a specific technology, rather than the misuse of that technology. The writer lists a bunch of other devices (including watches and MP3 players) that include cameras, but which no one is calling to ban. However, his overall point is that technology trumps privacy – and on top of that, technology trumps the law. The issue we should be focusing on, according to the article, is making laws that protect privacy, not ones that outlaw technology. Then, if someone is using the technology to violate someone’s privacy, you go after them for breaking the privacy law – not the law banning the, otherwise useful, technology. Makes sense. Of course, if you then combine it with another article (found at Smart Mobs), it raises other questions. This is a case where a man with a wireless security camera system realized that he was getting video from a neighbor’s security camera instead of his own – and witnessed the neighbor abusing her foster children. He called the police and the woman was quickly arrested, which is clearly a good thing. However, where does the law stand on video like that, which is accidentally intercepted? Is it only a privacy violation if the voyeurism is intentional? Clearly, there are a lot of new legal and privacy issues raised by new technologies – and trying to simply outlaw technology or cram new technologies into old laws isn’t going to cut it.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Cameras, Privacy And The Law”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

No Expectation of Privacy

There should be no expectation of privacy when an individual sets up a camera transmitter in their own home and then broadcasts the signal in the clear for all to see, as seems to be the case here. This is not not a case of one neighbor secretly installing a camera in another neighbor’s home. So what’re the “new legal and privacy issues” raised here?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Expectation of Privacy

The system was set up for internal use only. It certainly wasn’t designed to be broadcast for neighbors to watch. Even if the technology isn’t at all secure, and neighbors do end up seeing it, that was not the intention of the owner, and they could make the claim that it was a violation of their system for anyone else to watch it.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Current state of the law in most states in the US:

Interception of AUDIO is protected and has all sorts of legal consequences… interception of VIDEO is not. Since the most common camera out there (X10) has both, be very, very careful NOT to hook up (and definately DON’T RECORD and then turn over to Law Enforcement) the audio portion.

Believe it or not, under current law, the video is unprotected.

Afterhours 101 says:

technology and voyeurism

Imagine this as your case: you (or somebody close to you) was undressing and somebody from an apartment window overlooking yours caught a glimpse. Suppose the person undressing even performed a some kind of lewd act. Perhaps the voyeur takes his/her ‘peeping tomism’ to another level and video tapes the person. He/she puts their MPEG (movie) file onto the internet for all people to see. He/she has exploited and tarnished the person undressing ruthlessly. It gets worse though.
He/she is potentially a faceless criminal and could very easily get away clean and benefit from their voyeurism. If the person he/she spied on found the tape and tried to go after his or her violator, he or she would have an immensely difficult time doing so!
Technology is a very dangerous thing, especially since cameras are getting smaller and more common (cell phones, wristwatches, etc). The worse thing about technology crimes is the fact that they can be performed so annonymously that it would be close to impossible to catch him or her who is violating privacy rights. That is just an example though. I’m sure there are many more ways technology can harm peoples’ right to privacy.
Obviously, this is a very extreme case, but it still is very possible and I’m sure it has happened before. I believe that there needs to be some kind of very concrete technological laws set. If not, technology (especially video technology) will advance even further until privacy ceases to be.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...