Security gifts for the home

The holidays are here so everyone is going crazy getting gifts. One area that is perhaps overlooked at times for gifts is home security, though now with all sorts of surveillance gadgets tied to the Internet, you have some really cool options in this area that can make for great gifts.

Here’s one that is highlighted in the Holiday Gift Guide for the home:

iZON Remote Room Monitor

If anyone in your family or circle of friends has just had a baby or is expecting, this cool new monitor from Stem Innovation makes a great gift. This innovative and elegant video camera enables you to view and listen to activity in your home or office from anywhere in the world on your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. You can use it as a baby monitor, or as a monitor in your home when the babysitter is watching your kid. It can also be used as a security device as well so it also makes a great gift for anyone who’s interested in a video monitor. Privacy is also protected ensured as iZON uses secure encryption to stream video and audio through your local wireless network. Set up multiple iZON on a single network and view in a list within the app.

It’s amazing how flexible these tools are these days, and here you have an easy dual use device that can be a baby monitor but also so much more. It’s a great way to keep an eye on your home, kids, pets etc. Check it out.

Appeals court says you can film and record police officers

This is a great ruling, and not really unexpected. It’s outrageous that cops tried to prevent citizens from recording them:

We’ve had a lot of stories this year about police arresting people for filming them. It’s become quite a trend. Even worse, a couple weeks ago, we wrote about a police officer in Massachusetts, Michael Sedergren, who is trying to get criminal wiretapping charges brought against a woman who filmed some police officers beating a guy. This officer claims that the woman violated Massachusetts anti-wiretapping law, a common claim from police in such situations.

Segederin may have been better off if he’d waited a couple weeks for an appeals court ruling that came out Friday, because that ruling found that arresting someone for filming the police is a clear violation of both the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. How the case got to this point is a bit complex, but basically, a guy named Simon Glik saw some police arresting someone in Boston, and thought they were using excessive force. He took out his camera phone and began recording. The police saw that and told him to stop taking pictures. He told them he was recording them, and that he’d seen them punch the guy they were arresting. One officer asked him if the phone recorded audio as well and Glik told him it did. At that point, they arrested him, saying that recording audio was a violation of Massachusetts wiretap laws.

Even more ridiculous, they then had him charged not just with that, but also with disturbing the peace and “aiding in the escape of a prisoner.” After realizing that last one didn’t even pass the guffaw test, Massachusetts officials dropped that charge. A Boston court then dumped the other charges and Glik was free. However, he wanted to take things further, as he thought his treatment was against the law. He first filed a complaint with Boston Police Internal Affairs who promptly set about totally ignoring it. After they refused to investigate, Glik sued the officers who arrested him and the City of Boston in federal court for violating both his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The police officers filed for qualified immunity, which is designed to protect them from frivolous charges from people they arrest.

The district court rejected the officers’ rights to qualified immunity, saying that their actions violated the First & Fourth Amendments. Before the rest of the case could go on, the officers appealed, and that brings us to Friday’s ruling, which, once again, unequivocally states that recording police in public is protected under the First Amendment, and that the use of Massachusetts wiretapping laws to arrest Glik was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights as well. The ruling (pdf) is a fantastic and quick read and makes the point pretty clearly. Best of all, it not only says that it was a clear violation, but that the officers were basically full of it in suggesting that this was even in question. The court more or less slams the officers for pretending they had a valid excuse to harass a guy who filmed them arresting someone.

Read the rest of the post at Tech Dirt which also links to the opinion.

Erin Andrews still fighting to take down videos

ESPN television sportscaster Erin Andrews arrives at the 2009 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles in this July 15, 2009 file photograph. Chicago insurance man Michael David Barrett was sentenced to 30 months in prison on March 15, 2010 for making nude videos through hotel peepholes of television sports reporter Erin Andrews and posting them on the Internet. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/Files (UNITED STATES – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SPORT)

The beautiful Erin Andrews was violated a while back when some creep used a camera to film her undressing through the peep hole in the door to her hotel room. She’s still trying to deal with the videos taken from that incident.

But Andrews was also traumatized when peephole stalker Michael David Barrett posted nude videos of her that went viral. Barrett was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for interstate stalking. That sentence wasn’t nearly long enough for Andrews who blasted him as a “sexual predator” in court.

Andrews is buying copyrights of the videos in an attempt to take them down for good. Still, she’s reminded of her frightening experience every day on Twitter, where she has over 645,000 followers. She has a warning for any famous athlete, celebrity or media personality who wants to play the social media game. Learn to accept criticism. Ignore the urge to fire back — no matter how much you want to.

4 Ways to Guarantee Home Safety

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, but the same idea could equally be applied to anyone no matter where they live. Your home is your private dwelling and naturally you want to feel secure in your home. Unfortunately, even the safety of the home can be compromised by various things from acts of nature to people breaking in and stealing your possessions.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to protect your home and guarantee safety in your house.
1. Get Contents Insurance
Unfortunately, if you have any accidents in your home such as a fire, there is a good chance that you will lose a number of your precious and valuable possessions. One way to counteract this is to take out a contents insurance policy that will safeguard you in the event you lose any valuable or even everyday items. Many policies also have a clause that covers cash in your home, as well as valuables you may have in the garden. Of course, there may be some personal items and mementos that will be irreplaceable, but it is reassuring to know that other more common items can be insured and replaced should you have an accident.
2. Flood Insurance
Depending on where you live, you may also want to consider taking out a separate policy that offers flood insurance for your home. This is essential for people that live near large bodies of water, in low lying areas of land or near the ocean. Nature can be unpredictable at the best of times, and as a flood is a relatively rare occurrence, you may find that it is not covered on your standard contents insurance policy. Taking out an agreement that protects you from flood damage will give you peace of mind, especially during the next heavy thunderstorm.
3. Home Alarm Systems
Anybody who has been burgled will tell you that it is an invasive and horrifying experience. However, the sad truth is that many people could have helped prevent a burglary of their home by installing an alarm system. Not only will this precaution alert the local authorities should anybody try to gain unwanted access to your home, but the alarm box and system that works it are usually placed on the front wall of the house, acting as a clear deterrent for any passing burglar who thinks your home might be a soft mark and a good place to try to break into.
4. Additional Locks
If you employ the use of deadbolts and extra locks on your front and back doors and windows, your home is practically a fortress. Make sure you only give copies of the keys to people who live there or people you know you can trust to avoid anybody else getting their hands on a set and being able to let themselves in.
By undertaking these four steps, you should be able to guarantee your home safety at all times. Which will you use first?

Consult your local laws before recording anyone without consent

This story is crazy, and it demonstrates how many of our laws are outdated.

In Illinois, it’s illegal to record anyone without their consent, including police officers! A woman is now charged with a crime for recording a conversation with a police officer who was assaulting her sexually.

This has naturally sparked outrage from various groups.

But the lesson here is you have to be very careful if you’re going to use surveillance equipment to monitor anyone. Check your local laws first!

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