Remarkable number of trysts captured on videotape
Smile, you’re on candid camera — that used to be the slogan of the television show “Candid Camera,” where people would be secretly videotaped reacting to situations, reactions that were later broadcast.
But where and when — and how — you might be on video is a far broader issue than you think. In fact, with the millions of hours of surveillance footage shot every week, chances are that a good part of your public life is captured on camera — even parts of your public life that you might have thought were private.
Consider this alarming thought: have you (or anyone you know) ever stopped for a quick little amorous weekend or late-night interlude in a sprawling parking in CBRM? The kind of private congress you might be comfortable with, considering the sight lines are clear and you’re in an ocean of empty parking spaces? What’s the harm?
Then think about this: surveillance cameras can scan lots day and night and have captured a remarkable number of trysts. Nothing garners the attention of security personnel than a lone car parked in the lot, a car that no one seems to be getting out of. And yes, cameras zoom.
Years ago in St. John’s, there was, at least for a short period of time, a sort of “greatest hits” collection of parking lot performances.
(At least one set of the videos collected that way was later destroyed when senior staff discovered their existence.)
Last week, Newfoundland’s privacy commissioner, Ed Ring, issued guidelines for surveillance by public bodies in the province.
In a news release announcing the guidelines, Ring said that “the continued proliferation of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) and the rapidly advancing technology that CCTV employs is a concern for many privacy advocates and other privacy commissioners. The increasing presence of these cameras by public bodies has raised privacy concerns about how the personal information gathered by these CCTV systems is collected, used and disclosed …”
Because it’s not only embarrassing incidents that get captured — consider this recommendation in the guidelines: “For example, CCTV installed to prevent ongoing vandalism after normal working hours should not be used to deal with human resource matters during the work day.”
Imagine being disciplined for your work ethic based on a camera placed for an entirely different reason.
Ring is also recommending that surveillance records be destroyed after a month, and that they be subject to a logging system that would allow oversight into who accessed tapes, and when.
Since then, Ring has mused on CBC News that the lack of complaints about video surveillance suggests people are complacent about what sorts of things are on tape.
Truth is, they probably aren’t even aware that some of their most epic performances might be viewed by an audience they had not intended.