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Privacy and Technology
August 2, 2009 at 11:13 am #77038
IMO Some SERIOUS discussion needs to be continued!
Electronic peeping Toms invade privacy with technology
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
By Alyse Knorr
Sunday marked the last day a video of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews changing in her hotel room made Google’s top 15 search list, after more than a week as a top hit.
The video, which was filmed without Andrews’ knowledge through a peephole in her room, had barely lost its intrigue when a peeping Tom was arrested in Athens for using his cell phone to take pictures up a woman’s skirt at a Target store.
Modern technology may improve life in many ways, but it also has awakened a new beast in privacy invasion: electronic peeping Toms.
“The decreasing size and cost, along with the increased ease of use and clarity of video recording devices, has undoubtedly led to an increase of surreptitious recording of women in settings where they previously felt secure from such activity,” said Lt. James Roey, head of Atlanta Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, in an e-mail.
Cpl. David Schiralli of the Gwinnett Police Department said modern technology makes it easier for peeping Toms to operate, but harder for victims to know it’s happening to them.
“Not many people know it’s occurring unless it’s brought to their attention through some kind of Web site or unless they’re caught in the act,” Schiralli said. “But most of the time some people who are unexpecting don’t even know it’s occurring, and if they don’t know it’s occurring then they can’t file a complaint and we can’t investigate.”
Roey said now receive specialized training to competently investigate these crimes, as perpetrators are often extremely computer savvy and adept at covering their tracks.
Officer Jennifer Purphy of the Marietta Police Department said the Internet’s role in these crimes is actually helpful to police.
“Crimes like this have occurred all along, even before there were cameras in your cell phone,” Murphy said. “Because the Internet is being used now, it almost makes it easier for us.”
That’s because e-mails, images and text messages can all be tracked from the device they’re sent from and the device they are received from, Murphy said.
Brooke Campbell, a Women’s Studies professor at the University of Georgia, said the issue goes much deeper.
“I think that blaming new technology for crimes against women, or saying that they make the world a more dangerous place for the privacy of women, is too easy,” Campbell said in an e-mail. “It dodges both the sad reality that peeping Toms have been violating women’s privacy forever, and the fact that privacy as we once knew it no longer exists.”
Campbell said cell phones with cameras, the Internet and small video cameras can be used just as easily to prevent crime and promote feminism as they can be used to perpetuate misogyny.
The Target peeping Tom, in fact, was caught on a store surveillance camera.
“The more these kinds of violations of ‘private’ space occur, the more we understand that we’ve got to radically rethink our notions of public versus private,” Campbell said. “With every advance in technology, we’ve got to redraw the line between public and private — if we can even draw a line anymore.”
Any person who suspects an invasion of privacy should report it immediately to law enforcement, Roey said. The victim should not confront the suspect as this could lead to the destruction of valuable evidence.
Roey advised individuals to stay alert when in dressing rooms, public bathrooms and other areas where they undress or partially disrobe.
Schiralli suggested bringing along a friend while clothes shopping to guard the changing room door.
“We try to tell people, when you go out into the public ... you need to be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions to protect your privacy,” Schiralli said.
Roey also advised individuals to stay at home, or have someone who they trust stay at their home, while a repairman or other stranger is in the house, and to keep an eye on what he or she is doing.
Boyfriends and roommates are often guilty of these crimes as well, Roey said.
If you suspect that a recording device is hidden nearby, Roey said, look for objects that appear out of place and ask yourself “Where would I hide a camera?”
At the heart of the Erin Andrews incident and the Target case, Cambell said, are the same questions that have always been associated with voyeurism: “Why does the peeping Tom peep? And why don’t we have a term like “peeping Jane?”
“In a sense, Erin Andrews and the woman in the Athens Target are today’s poster children for problems with patriarchy that were here yesterday and will likely be here tomorrow, in the guise of ever new forms of technology,” Campbell said.
“Historically, men (and women, too, actually) are socialized to look at women, while women are socialized to be looked at by men. I think we’ve all got to start learning to look differently, in both senses of the word.”
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