The Anti-Surveillance Defense Group, a group whose mission is to combat the worldwide proliferation of video surveillance cameras, launched a national research project last week.
The project, dubbed “Operation Private Parts”, will attempt to expose to a worldwide audience how secret video spying in public places has become a normal part of everyday life.
As part of the research, a group of free-lance photographers will fan out to each of the 50 states for the purpose of obtaining video similar to those now being used on many voyeurism Web sites. Voyeurism refers to images obtained without the subject knowing, usually for the purposes of sexual gratification.
“This project is not intended for sexual gratification or financial gain,” said Ron Brazil, Director of U.S. Operations for ASDG. “Instead, we want to show the ease with which ordinary people are being used to create sexually oriented video that is fueling the frenzy of Internet voyeurism Web sites.”
ASDG’s photographers have indicated doing activities in approximately 36 states at this time, Brazil said. Efforts will be made to obtain a cross section of society including politicians, newspaper publishers and editors, radio and television personalities, professional athletes, actors and actresses and a variety of other high-profile individuals.
“No one is exempt from the massive amount of secret video spying that goes on in public places,” he said.
According to the ASDG Web site, a majority of the general public is unaware of how out of control this secret video spying is in public places.
Most states have no direct laws handling video surveillance in public because of problems in the definition of a public place, Brazil said.
In April, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced a bill entitled the “Family Privacy and Protection Act,” which would create two new federal crimes of video voyeurism, one dealing with adults and one dealing with minors.
Under the bill, any person who uses a camera or similar recording device to record another individual either for a lewd or lascivious purpose without that person’s consent is in violation of the law. This bill has not yet passed and the issue of video voyeurism is still being handled on a state-by-state basis.
A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision declared up-skirt photography in a public place as lewd but legal, according to the ASDG Web site.
“It’s an outrage, I think that it would outrage anyone,” Brazil said. “Our wives, mothers, and children go out in public and don’t expect people to look under their clothes.”
The ASDG has also developed a line of personal video surveillance defense products.
“Our products will allow an individual to personally opt out of being photographed by any video camera within a specified range,” Brazil said.
They have marketed the Invizi-Shield, a compact device that is carried on the person and uses the latest in light technology to disrupt all video surveillance transmissions from video recording devices within a user definable range.
Experts predict the use of miniature video cameras will continue to increase at a rapid pace over the next several years.
There are already many of these mini cameras located on campus in the library, in the tunnel under College Ave., and in other undisclosed high security areas.
“We do not use the cameras to invade people’s privacy,” said Bob Chaffee,
CSUPD Police Chief. “The purpose of our cameras is public safety and public security.”
Franco Rodriguez, a senior Human Development and Family Studies major said, “I think that it is bad that people aren’t always aware of surveillance cameras but they may be helpful in certain situations.”
Rodrigez said Brazil’s system, which would cost $150, is not something he is interested in.
“The new technology to deter video surveillance is not something that I would purchase,” he said. “Not all cameras are used for voyeurism and most college students couldn’t afford the $150 anyway.”
Chaffee also urged caution when considering the personal surveillance defense products.
“As a consumer, I would recommend that you don’t buy anything that sounds too good to be true,” he said. “What does it do, make you disappear? It seems magical to me.”