Nothing to hide vs. nothing to fear
One of the arguments used to install more and more public surveillance equipment (besides the obvious “it’s for YOUR OWN safety”) is that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. And after all, it’s not like the surveillance companies post all their recorded videos online for everyone to behold. No, only a few professional security guards have access to these feeds so that they can intervene if a “situation” arises.
NOT! That is a gross assumption. We think that it is a security guard monitoring the monitors, but do we actually know that for sure? Do we even know if there are any regulations regarding who gets to have access to all these video files and under what conditions? I don’t. We assume that there are licensed professional security personnel watching the screens, but it may very well be that in certain places nobody watches the screens – the images are simply recorded onto a computer (or videotape) and accessed by the police after you’ve been shot to find the guy/gal who shot you. But it may just as well be convicted pedophiles sitting there watching the screens. Think about it, if there are no regulations about who gets to supervise the surveillance footage and the surveillance companies need to save money, why not employ any hobo who is prepared to look at a couple of monitors all day for minimum wage?
But it may just as well be hackers or rapists looking at the video footage. Or… hang on… did he say “hackers”? Yes he did! Several years ago there was a Google hack whereby anyone could search for a specific term and Google would spit out a list of private security cameras installed all over the world accessible to everyone over the internet because the persons installing them did not activate the password features. So you could just click on a link and see the security footage of a parking lot outside a bar in Arkansas or something.
More recently, Kevin Finisterre, a security researcher was tasked to test the security of a city’s infrastructure and managed to hack a police vehicle’s on-board camera and microphone. Well, he didn’t even need to do much hacking, he just followed the instruction manuals of the systems (found on Google) and used the default passwords. He could see and hear the live feeds from cop cars and upload and download videos from the on-board computer (which, btw are admissible as evidence in a court of law).
So if the security of surveillance equipment used by the police are so easily circumvented what makes us think that the surveillance equipment used in taxis, public transportation vehicles, train stations, markets, malls, etc are any more secure?
But let’s leave security out of the equation for a moment. The point is that besides the licensed professionals and perverts I mentioned above, we also have hackers who can watch me do whatever I do in public areas such as: walk, talk, eat, shop, sneeze, yawn, scratch my privates, pick my nose, stare at a woman, stare at a man, kiss my wife, kiss my cousin. I’m quite certain there are others who do lot more embarrassing (maybe even illegal) things in public. With other words, we have a group of peeping-toms who, broadly speaking, are fascinated with “boobies”, who are convinced that all information should be made public, who have no quarrels about publishing a clip of their school-mate going to second base on the school-bus or publishing pictures of people scratching various parts of their bodies. And this group of people, with enough patience and conviction can access surveillance data from just about any public surveillance system in the world (and I haven’t even gotten into organized crime or terrorism)
And you tell me that I have nothing to fear if I have nothing to hide? Please! I will have nothing to fear when the surveillance providers go public with their recruitment and security procedures and their security audits. Then I will feel confident that me scratching my privates will not end up on dunces-scratching-their-asses.com or that my wife’s low-cut top won’t end up on boobwatch.xxx