Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Will Google Web-Cams Deter Crime Or Just Invade Privacy?


Paranoid people often think that someone is watching them. Ironically, now days this is often reality. Have you seen Google's street web cameras? You can walk down most streets in the major cities of the U.S. without ever leaving your living room. In England, surveillance cameras are even more common. While the objective was to reduce crime in England, a reduction has yet to be seen. Convictions; however, may be on the rise in large part due to the cameras serving as witnesses.

Recent moves by Google raise the inquiry of whether indoor cameras will soon broadcast live on the web. Sure, private surveillance video is currently available to owners with remote access via the Internet. But what is being contemplated is putting live gas station and convenience store surveillance video live on the web for anyone to view. Science fiction? Well, there appears to be some truth to the rumor that Google is negotiating with some select store owners to put their surveillance cameras on the net. Is live surveillance in public places fair game? How about in businesses? How about in homes? Far fetched you suggest? Well, do you have a relatively new lap top? Bet that lap top has a built in camera. How often is that camera watching the user of the lap top? Do you know how to tell when the camera is recording and/or broadcasting?

There are many cameras available for view on the web. For example, EarthCam and the New England Aquarium provide live views of historic downtown Boston, Boston Harbor, the adjacent Marriot, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Peruse some of these cameras by Google searching Google live web cams. You may be amazed at what (or who) you may see.
Update 2-19-10: Have we merely examined the tip of the iceberg? A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Pennsylvania accusing the Lower Merion school district of "unauthorized, inappropriate and indiscriminate remote activation" of web cams in laptops issued to students. Assistant Principal Lindy Mastko of Harriton High School allegedly informed a student that he was "engaged in improper behavior in his home. " Mastko allegedly told both the boy and his father that the school district could remotely activate the web cam on student lap tops! The school district initially did not respond to the accusations. Others have alleged that their MacBooks' green webcam lights went on at random times. If the school was eavesdropping, was it an unlawful invasion of privacy? The Lower Merion School District superintendent Christopher McGinley issued an official response acknowledging "a security feature intended to track lost, stolen and missing laptops." However, the web site claims that the school district " has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever" but that the matter is "under review."
The school and its officials are presumed innocent unless otherwise proven in a court of law. In the mean time, ask yourself this, how could Legal Pub have timely foreshadowed these problems?
Update 2-22-10: The FBI is now investigating the allegations that a school official remotely monitored a student at home. The FBI became involved after a family filed a lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District. Stay tuned...

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Big Brother is always watching!

Anonymous said...

Well lets hope big brother is not a peeking tom!

Anonymous said...

This is a disturbing thought.

Ralph said...

I thought someone was watching last night as I pulled the shades, got into bed alone and started snoring...

Nothing to watch. Nothing to hide here!

Ralph

Anonymous said...

有深道,要慢慢感受~~^^ 加油........................................

オテモヤン said...

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katfish said...

I saw my nephew propose to his girlfriend on Bourbon St. in New Orleans' French Quarter via one of these cams...I thought it was pretty cool....she(now his wife) said she thought at the time,"Why in the hell does he keep pulling me out here in the street?"

katfish said...

on topic- Are you trying to make me paranoid?...as she throws a towell over the webcam.

Legal Pub said...

yes, Katfish... we are watching you!

katfish said...

Yep LP, just as I thought....so I'm not paranoid....I knew it.

Anonymous said...

Katfish, when you are our update on Sheley, we are all reading and watching. LOL



G.H.

Legal Pub said...

Update 2-19-10: Have we merely examined the tip of the iceberg? A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Pennsylvania accusing the Lower Merion school district of "unauthorized, inappropriate and indiscriminate remote activation" of web cams in laptops issued to students. Assistant Principal Lindy Mastko of Harriton High School allegedly informed a student that he was "engaged in improper behavior in his home. " Mastko allegedly told both the boy and his father that the school district could remotely activate the web cam on student lap tops! The school district initially did not respond to the accusations. Others have alleged that their MacBooks' green webcam lights went on at random times. If the school was eavesdropping, was it an unlawful invasion of privacy? The Lower Merion School District superintendent Christopher McGinley issued an official response acknowledging "a security feature intended to track lost, stolen and missing laptops." However, the web site claims that the school district " has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever" but that the matter is "under review."
The school and its officials are presumed innocent unless otherwise proven in a court of law. In the mean time, ask yourself this, how could Legal Pub have timely foreshadowed these problems?

Legal Pub said...

Update 2-22-10: The FBI is now investigating the allegations that a school official remotely monitored a student at home. The FBI became involved after a family filed a lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District. Stay tuned...