Surveillance gadgets for the holidays
We can gripe all we want about privacy, but the plain fact is that we can now be recorded for video and sound just about anywhere.
Of course this is useful for fun for people interested in tracking others, and that’ where surveillance gadgets come into play. With super-small HD video recorders, we’re seeing all sorts of surveillance and video recording equipment getting pushed in the consumer market. Now anyone can channel their inner 007 and spy on others.
Above we have a photo of the new Sony Digital Binoculars priced at $1,999.
Look into the first fully digital, 3D, high-def-recording binoculars and you’re not gazing through glass, you’re observing dual independent electronic viewfinders. Why’s that better? You can adjust the image, focus instantly, and with the push of a button start recording the identical view in 1080p high-def, and 3D. The possibilities for the DEV-5 are limitless—birding, sports action, checking out that apartment across the street with the hot neighbor who always leaves the lights on… ok, maybe not (better to simply take advice from The Girl Next Door by getting her tips on love, sex, and dating sent right to your inbox).
Along the same lines we have the Pivothead HD Recording Sunglasses which can be used to record everything around you with POV video. You can record your adventures, but also record other people of course.
Just keep in mind your local privacy laws when using these devices. It’s one thing to record video out in public, but it’s quite another to record people when they have an expectation of privacy.
Posted in: Gadgets, Privacy, Surveillance
Tags: 007, gadgets gift guide, high-def-recording binoculars, Holiday Gift Guide, local privacy laws, Pivothead HD Recording Sunglasses, recording binoculars, recording sungalsses, Sony Digital Binoculars, spying on others, surveillance cameras, surveillance equipment, surveillance gadgets, surveillance gifts
Ultimate security gadget during a storm
OK, so maybe that a bit of an exaggeration, but this portable radio/flashlight that can be powered by a crank shaft, a solar strip or conventional methods can really come in handy during and after a storm, or while you’re out in the middle of nowhere like on a camping vacation. The Etón FRX3 Radio can also charge up your cell phone, and that’s a really important feature.
Plenty of gadgets for holiday shopping
The glasses above don’t look like a cool gadget, but don’t be fooled. This is just one of the many new “spy glasses” out on the market that have a build in, tiny video recorder in the glasses. Yes, privacy is totally going by the wayside, but fans of surveillance gadgets will love these things, while others will be totally creeped out.
Expect to find stuff like this along with tons of other cool phones, tablets and more at your local Best Buy or on the web. The selections are endless. Of course many of the manufacturers of these new gadgets use the web and social media as their main marketing tools, but just go to an electronics conference and you’ll be shocked how many of them are also printing glossy brochures. This is more true of the bigger companies, but even the startups can get good deals by printing brochures online and making themselves look like a bigger company.
Expect these glasses to get in the news, whether it involves a press sting operation or something like spying on a celebrity. Pretty soon everyone is going to be paranoid that they’re being recorded.
Privacy, telematics and car insurance
Here’s a fascinating story of how car insurance companies can monitor your driving.
When Zshavina Meacher of Cleveland traded in her car for a new 2011 Chevy Malibu last summer, her insurance premium jumped to $510 every six months. Her insurer, Progressive Corp., asked her whether she wanted to cut her rate.
If Meacher agreed to install a device in her car that monitors how safely she drives and the results were good, her rates would go down. If the results weren’t so good, her rates would stay the same. She agreed.
During the first few weeks, the device told Meacher that she slammed on her brakes a lot. She stopped the hard braking.
In February, the 23-year-old’s insurance bill dropped by $120 per six months, or 24 percent.
Meacher is happy her rates went down. And Progressive is happy the risk of Meacher getting into an accident went down. Fewer claims will help keep Mayfield-based Progressive profitable.
If you haven’t heard of telematics — a device that monitors your driving — then get ready. While Progressive started dabbling in telematics in the 1990s, it started pushing it in 2010 with its “Snapshot” program, and other insurers have stepped up interest in the last year.
Of course this is voluntary monitoring, and safe drivers can save money on their car insurance, but it raises all sorts of privacy issues. What’s next? Will health insurers want constant monitoring of our heart rates to see if we are exercising?
Posted in: Gadgets, Privacy, Surveillance
Tags: auto insurance, auto insurance rates, automobile insurance, automobile insurance rates, car insurance, car insurance rates, health insurance, health insurance monitoring, reduce my auto insurance, reduce my automobile insurance, reduce my car insurance, surveillance equipment, surveillance gadgets, telematics, telematics and privacy, telematics in insurance, telematics issues, trading privacy for discounts
Supreme Court rules unanimously in GPS case
A recent case highlighted new challenges for privacy in the modern world. Cops placed a GPS tracker on the car of a criminal suspect without getting a warrant. Fortunately, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court decision that ruled that this was a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which prevents unreasonable searches without a warrant.
The court, however, declined to go further. Issues on other types of electronic surveillance will be left to another day.
Posted in: Gadgets, Policies, Privacy, Surveillance
Tags: cops, Fourth Amendment, Fourth Amendment protections, Fourth Amendment searches, Fourth Amendment violations, GPS, GPS trackers, GPS tracking, GPS warrants, police, police officer, right to privacy, unconstitutional search, unreasonable search
A win for privacy . . .
This seems like a reasonable ruling.
Giving privacy-rights advocates and civil libertarians an important victory, a federal appeals court ruled that police conducted an illegal warrant-less search by planting a GPS device in a drug-case suspect’s car and tracking him for a month.
In ruling Friday that the police violated the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that by almost any measure, planting a GPS device, then following a person for several weeks conflicted with an individual’s reasonable expectations for privacy.
It will be interesting to see how the law develops for personal spying and private investigators.
Posted in: Gadgets, News, Policies, Privacy, Surveillance
Tags: civil libertarians, Fourth Amendment, GPS, GPS device, GPS privacy, GPS surveillance, illegal warrant-less search, planting a GPS device, privacy-rights advocates, reasonable expectations for privacy
Privacy in the digital age
Everything has changed. In the past ten years we’ve reached a tipping point where technology involving surveillance and the sharing of information has become so pervasive and inexpensive that we can no longer assume that our actions or words will be kept private.
Add in the dangers posed by terrorists and criminals, and now we have a greater appetite for compromising privacy in exchange for greater security.
We started this blog to address the tensions between the competing needs for security and privacy. We’ll also address the tools out there that citizens can use to shield their privacy, along with the tools that can be used to get information . . . even about others.
In the end, we will need to make choices about how to balance these interests as a society, and each individual will need to come to their own conclusions about how to live in the new environment. For example, if you could spy on your spouse or significant other, would you do it? Would you place a GPS device on their car? How much surveillance is appropriate regarding your children? Get used to these difficult questions.
Posted in: Gadgets, Identity Theft, Internet, News, Policies, Privacy, Security, Social Media, Surveillance
Tags: GPS, GPS surveillance, privacy tipping point, spying on your spouse