As technology continues to get more powerful, more affordable and smaller with each passing day, it creates a number of privacy-related challenges that shouldn’t be ignored. Even as recently as ten years ago, buying a consumer-level “spy camera” was a massive investment. Now, you can buy something that will fit into the palm of your hand (and discreetly into other areas, too) for just a few hundred dollars or less.
. When technology allows the smallest of cameras to be covertly installed in the most inappropriate and intimate of areas, how do you combat this in a way that satisfies everyone? This is a question that NSW police are still trying to answer as we speak.
Clothing Hook Spy Cameras: What’s Happening in Australia
Recently, a man in his 40s was arrested and charged for installing spy cameras in two public toilets in Sydney, Australia train stations. When the police conducted a search of his home, they found additional cameras similar to those found in North Sydney and Parramatta.
The major problem stems from the fact that these cameras aren’t necessarily hard to identify – it’s that they’re hidden inside objects that you would likely look at and not think twice about. Many of the cameras are being placed inside small, inconspicuous objects like clothing hooks that can be easily installed and left for hours without detection.
Many of these devices are commonly sold under the guise of “nanny cam” technology. What looks like a standard clothing hook actually has a pinhole lens on the front, capable of recording HD video (and, in certain cases, audio). Examining the back of the device reveals an “On/Off” button, a slot for a USB storage card and more – everything someone would need to collect any type of footage they wanted.
Think about this from your own perspective. If you walked into a public restroom, ventured into a stall and saw a clothing hook affixed to the back of the door, would you even bother to think twice about it? Most people wouldn’t, which is part of the problem.
This isn’t a problem that is just affecting Australians, either. Law enforcement agencies based in the Florida Keys found similar types of clothing hook spy cameras in three different women’s restrooms during June of 2016.
To their credit, both police in Australia and the Florida Keys urge people to check a public restroom very carefully before using them. If you should happen to find something suspicious that you think may or may not contain a hidden camera, it is recommended that you do NOT touch it – what you’re looking at will (hopefully) be used as evidence in a trial in the future.
Instead, call the police – many departments are being trained to respond right away, and collecting the device unscathed actually represents their best chance of catching someone in the act.
It isn’t just clothing hooks that people have to be wary of, either. Police have been regularly finding these types of discreet cameras in a wide range of other everyday items – one was found hidden inside a pest control device, for example.
Staying Safe Means Staying Alert
We’ve entered an age where it is best to just assume that you’re on camera whenever you go out in public. Camera technology has become so sophisticated that most people are captured either in still images or live video hundreds of times per day without being aware. None of this is to excuse people who may wish to record you during your most intimate of moments, but as a general rule of thumb, the advice is sound.
If you happen to walk into an area like a public bathroom, you need to train yourself to take a look around for anything suspicious. You truly never know who might be watching.