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Video Voyeurism: Hidden Cameras in Your Home

Hidden Cameras, Nanny Cam, Wall Repair

So, you’ve seen the CIA movies where hidden cameras are cleverly placed to catch a criminal in an illegal act, right? Have you seen the one where, though it is illegal, cameras are secretly hidden in private homes of law-abiding citizens? Did you see the one where these law-abiding citizens are being secretly taped doing everyday things by a video voyeur? The window-lurking peeping Toms make way for the new, high tech enriched video voyeurs of the 21st Century. Your private moment using the bathroom may not be so private after all, even in your own home.

The stories of voyeuristic gas station owners placing cameras in the vents of the bathrooms and people using their cell phones to take pictures up skirts have circulated in the newspapers and on the news. The story that is not generally told is how, at this very moment, people all over the globe are being videotaped or photographed without their knowledge from within their own homes. Most of the acquired video and photos are then passed on to pornographic websites. Yes, when you hopped out of the shower this morning, it’s possible your relaxing moment was sent over the web, live.

There are thousands of stories littering the internet that describe someone’s horror as they realize they are being taped. Hotel rooms, classrooms, public restrooms, private restrooms, bedrooms, offices, gyms, dorm rooms, tanning beds, spas, high school locker rooms; these are just some of the places hidden cameras have been found. Now that you are thoroughly paranoid, it is time to discuss how to prevent this ultimate invasion of your privacy.

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First, the Federal government and your local government have passed a few laws in order to have the ability to punish the perpetrator. In 2003 the Senate passed The Video Voyeurism Prevention Act which made it illegal to film or photograph certain parts of the body unclothed without the person’s consent. The Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004 amended the Federal criminal code to “prohibit knowingly videotaping, photographing, filming, recording by any means, or broadcasting an image of a private area of an individual, without that individual’s consent, under circumstances in which that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. (Defines a “private area” as the naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast of an individual.)” That should about cover it, right? Wrong.

Although some states have moved to making this sort of “peeping” a felony, many have not. The fine line comes in when law enforcement, the government and other entities such as the media need to be able to use hidden cameras to expose criminals, enforce the law, and function in a secure manner. How would department store security personnel function without cameras hidden throughout the store? The laws are difficult to pass and enforce, thus, it is you who must take some steps in securing your privacy.

Though little can be done out in public aside from kneeling on the gas station bathroom floor to check out the vent, or trying to explain to the manager of your gym why you are removing the locker room vents and taping up holes in the wall, there are steps you can take in your home to insure your privacy is not being violated.

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First, technology has made today’s hidden cameras tiny, sleek and adapted for WiFi connections to make the film transfer from your bedroom to the web easier and faster. With that said, all one of these cameras needs is a tiny nail hole to peek through. If you own your home, it is less likely that you would be hit by a video voyeur unless a family member is attempting to spy on you. However, if you are renting, it might be a good idea to cruise through your house and look for any nail holes that were not filled in when you moved in and spackle those babies up! They could be in the ceiling, behind the toilet, in the wall, almost anywhere you can think of.

Next, the vents seem like a simpler place to leave a recording device as there would be no wall repair needed. Peek into your vents and see if you notice anything shiny or reflective, as that would be the tiny lens on the camera. If you need to, take the vent cover off to check thoroughly. Similar places for hidden cameras are ceiling fans and some light fixtures.

Objects, such as clock radios, can also be used to hide cameras. These sorts of hidden cameras are usually used to watch someone else in your own home though, i.e. Nanny Cam. If you suspect there is a camera in an item in your house, go ahead and check it out, but unless it came with the house, it’s not likely.

If you suspect you may have hidden cameras within your home or you actually came across one and wonder where the rest are, there are high-tech products on the market to detect all sorts of surveillance equipment. These hidden camera detectors run from about $30 to around $90, depending on what sorts of items it can detect. Though that can be a little pricey, it may be worth the piece of mind.

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If you’re shaking your head and thinking to yourself, “No way”, think again. The prevalence of this crime is on the rise. It is happening in places you would think would be the most secure; professional offices, churches, and even private homes. If you’re now thinking, “No one would want to film me, anyway”, hold that thought as well. Video voyeurs typically spy just out of sheer curiosity and in the hopes of catching something titillating. It has nothing to do with you being 24 and gorgeous or 65 and seasoned. Be proactive and protect your self from today’s silent home invaders.