Have you ever stopped to look around lately? No, I mean really look around. What you’ll see aren’t just people but cameras. Try it sometime and walk into your local restaurant, gas station or department store and see whether you can find these out in the open or hidden cameras.
Cameras are everywhere. Whether they’re on our computers, our phones, traffic corners, or even airplanes, they’re here to stay and to watch including listening to our every move. On the other hand, it’s also similar for easy communications between whatever activity you may be doing on the screens at that point.
As we increase our technology usage and evolve in the ways we communicate, there are some things you should consider. That’s what we’ll be talking about here in the breakdown below.
Desktop monitors are everywhere
Desktop monitors come in many forms, like Facebook Portal and Android and Apple tablets with video apps installed. More communication is taking place over video at work and at home. Any time you connect devices to the internet, make sure you secure your router and secure your wired and wireless cameras at home and at work.
Facebook Portal is a way to video chat with other people and it swivels to follow you as you move, so you don’t have to carry it. The funny thing about live video connectivity in your home is that even Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg finds it a bit creepy. He shared a photo where it appears he’s covered his own webcam and built-in microphone port on his MacBook Air (see red arrows in the image below), which is a rather cheap and simple form of security.
Zuckerberg, who is responsible for the Portal device, says this: Facebook doesn’t listen to, view or keep the contents of the Portal video calls, they do use it to target ads and device usage. Zuckerberg held a discussion on the future of technology and society where he answered questions posed by Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain, who hosted the event. Zittrain stated that Facebook’s Portal is literally a camera in people’s living rooms.
Zuckerberg said, “I basically think that if you want to talk in metaphors, messaging is like people’s living room, and we definitely don’t want a society where there’s a camera in everyone’s living room.” Immediately following that Zuckerberg stated that despite everything the signal would still be encrypted.
You have to ask yourself what it means to you when thinking about purchasing this window into your home. With Facebook’s track record in recent years having their own privacy and data breaches, their boasting of encrypted security doesn’t ease any worries.
Not-so-hidden cameras are everywhere
Singapore Airlines has been getting complaints from passengers concerned about cameras embedded in the seat-back displays on some of their aircraft. They’re afraid the airline might be assembling visual data about passenger behavior during flights. The airline responded directly to tweets about it, explaining that the cameras are not in use and that it has no intention of activating them in the future. We’ve got to wonder why they’re there, then.
Just found this interesting sensor looking at me from the seat back on board of Singapore Airlines. Any expert opinion of whether this a camera? Perhaps @SingaporeAir could clarify how it is used? pic.twitter.com/vy0usqruZG
— Vitaly Kamluk (@vkamluk) February 17, 2019
What are public cameras used for?
As we’re starting to get used to the idea of a Google Home, Amazon Echo and other similar devices listening in to us, like our smartphones already have been, we have to ask the question, how far do we let this go and when do we pump the breaks?
While the technology behind these new devices and services isn’t new, it isn’t going away either. Facial recognition technology is the main concern as these devices, and those who own them, get to know you considerably more than you realize.
Facebook users who upload a plethora of photos and videos, these devices may not concern you all that much. However, the idea of having a device watching you whenever you’re walking into the room could feel a little awkward. That is unless you’re a gamer, podcaster or streaming personality, this technology may not scare you off as you’ll already be used to putting it all out there for all to see.
How can you protect yourself from being recorded?
Most of these issues can be taken care of rather easily with a few easy methods for your personal devices. Those out there in the wild such as airplanes, traffic cameras, stores or things outside your home, these ideas won’t help.
- Disconnect your device from the internet when not in use for that purpose
- Limit what apps or services can use the camera or microphone
- Put tape over your devices’ built-in microphone and camera if you don’t intend on ever using it and disable them
- If you use external microphones and webcams, simply unplug them or turn them around
- If you’re uncomfortable with an in-home device watching you or listening, then those may not be for you either
If you’re concerned about hidden cameras in hotels, or other public places, find out how to spot and disable spy cameras.
Moral: Be careful with invasive tech
While these concepts are great and serve a purpose, there is a bit you should be wary of. I have multiple machines in my own home from a Google Home, a laptop, a desktop computer, four tablets, two smartphones, and other recording devices. Taking precautions by simply disabling or unplugging these devices access is still the best method for preventing at least some of your personal identity from being captured by other organizations.
With having social media accounts and what you do online, they already have a pretty good idea who you are and what you’re into. If you disagree with the visual aspect of your face on camera, this may not be for you.