Friday, April 16, 2010

Even more in the surveillance-camera debate

Last night, I decided to try my hand in Stumbling — or browsing the Web using StumbleUpon. For the most part, I wasn't impressed. I came across some mildly funny quotations and pictures, some cool nature photos and some less-than-impressive tech blogs.

I was about to call it quits when I StumbledUpon this page: a wiki entry entitled "How to Watch Security Camera Streams on the Internet."

The entry insists if you enter one of the dozens of codes they provide into a search engine, you will find yourself watching a random surveillance camera monitoring a random place somewhere in the world. Skeptical at first, I plugged in a few of the codes and, indeed, found myself watching over parking lots, street corners, city views, highways and even inside some businesses.

Inside of some pet-grooming shop.

A highway ... somewhere in the world?

I'm uncertain whether these are live streaming or pre-recorded. I think both. On one video, it was several hours ahead, across the globe, and another claimed it was footage from October 2005.

Nevertheless, this certainly complicates my argument on surveillance cameras. In my first entry, I argued these cameras were seriously breaching our day-to-day privacy. In my second, I said there was a great deal of good cameras potentially could do. Now, I'm somewhere in the middle.

Certainly, they can be advantageous — no doubt. But with systems designed to be open-ended like some of these, or easily hacked (The entry does say, "If you have to break through an existing login system, it's most likely illegal." Good to know. ...), is that really in anyone's best interest? Some of these monitor public places, but others have the capacity to tilt and zoom the camera, making it easy to become less of a surveillance tool and more of a stalking mechanism. Creepy.

But, then again, technology is heading quickly toward a state of omnipresence, so shouldn't we almost expect we're always being watched? Is this actually all that surprising?

1 comment:

  1. Recent numbers show that 63% of US households own a pet - that's 71.1 million homes and families with dogs, cats, iguanas, parakeets, fish, ferrets, potbellied pigs, etc, etc., Taking care of a pet is tougher than taking care of an infant, since our pets can't speak. Hence, making sure your pet is safe and happy when you leave it alone at home should be a priority for all pet owners. One of the simplest ways of watching over a pet remotely is by using some sort of webcam software like GotoCamera that is easily available online these days. Thanks to technology and some very smart people who are working on making things easier for us, you can now use your basic webcam to monitor your pets while you're away from them.