We are told that surveillance cameras are never abused by their operators, each of whom can supposedly be trusted not to use the awesome technology at their disposal to engage in despicable or outright illegal behavior. But this information is false: camera-operators are not angels; they are subject to the same prejudices, temptations and corruptions that we all struggle with; camera-operators get bored or arrogant and abuse their cameras on a regular basis. To confirm this, one only has to keep up with the news being reported from around the world, which is precisely what we plan to do here, on this page, in chronological order. (Click here for a listing of protests against surveillance cameras, and here for a listing of reports citing the ineffectiveness of video surveillance as a "crime-fighting" tool.)
26 November 2001, New York City: Important Consumer Alert: United States Secret Service Uncovers ATM Fraud, Consumer Services, State of New York Banking Department.
The New York State Banking Department is working closely with law enforcement officials to protect New York consumers. According to investigators at the NYPD and United States Secret Service, some victims across New York City have lost up to thousands of dollars since the beginning of the summer as a ring of thieves obtain personal identification numbers (PINS) and make unauthorized withdrawals using fake ATM cards. The majority of complaints to the NYPD appear to have come from individuals who used ATMs on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but also from customers in the Financial District and West Side. According to officials, most victims had used their cards in machines located at grocery stores, delis and shopping malls, rather than at bank machines, where there is generally more ["legitimate"] surveillance.
Investigators believe that the thieves use small hidden video cameras [disguised as "legitimate security cameras"] to tape people punching their personal identification numbers into ATMs and also attach a device to the machines to record data from the magnetic strips on the victims' cards. In other cases, thieves connected personal computers to ATMs and downloaded account information. The investigation has now expanded nationwide, with Secret Service agents working with local law enforcement officials and banks. Investigators say that arrests are expected in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, here's what you can do to protect yourself from becoming victimized by this or other potential ATM scams:
--Exercise caution when making an ATM withdrawal, particularly from a machine that is located in a non-bank environment, such as a grocery store, deli or shopping mall.
--Before proceeding with your transaction, look around to guard against [video] surveillance by anyone who may arouse your slightest suspicion.
--Use your free hand to cover the ATM keyboard while you type in your PIN number.
If you or anyone you know becomes a victim of unauthorized ATM use, please report this crime to your bank and local precinct immediately.
23 March 2002, Tennessee, USA: 14 cheerleaders sue over camera in dressing area by Kirk Loggins, The Tennessean.
Fourteen former Nashville Kats cheerleaders, who were videotaped without their knowledge in a dressing room at Gaylord Entertainment Center last summer, filed a $13 million civil damages lawsuit yesterday against the arena's management company and two of its former employees. The lawsuit states that employees with Powers Management routinely placed hidden video surveillance cameras throughout the arena as a security measure and that, on at least one occasion last summer, videotapes were made of the women in their dressing room, "in various stages of undress and other private acts." The Arena Football League's Nashville Kats team moved to Atlanta last year.
Powers Management is owned by Craig Leipold, who also is the majority owner of the Nashville Predators hockey team, which plays in the city-owned arena. Gerry Helper, the Predators' vice president for communications and development, declined to comment on the cheerleaders' lawsuit, which was filed late yesterday afternoon in Davidson County Circuit Court.
"We have not seen the lawsuit," Helper said. "Not having seen it, it would not be appropriate to comment on it." In the lawsuit, the cheerleaders said that when Powers Management officials discovered the videotapes, they launched a "secret investigation, resulting in the willful destruction" of the videotapes before the cheerleaders ever knew they existed. They also alleged in the lawsuit that the management company destroyed the videotapes "with the intent to interfere" with any legal action the women might take.
The 14 cheerleaders, who range in age from 19 to 32, said they learned of the existence of the videotapes only through news reports last October. They said they have suffered "severe and serious emotional and mental distress" since then. They are seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages from Powers Management and two of its former employees, John Day and James Corn, who left the company after the videotapes were discovered.
"Powers' decision to make decisions for these young ladies without consulting them upsets them as much as anything," said Bill Ramsey, one of the lawyers representing the women. Ramsey said it is "difficult to quantify" just how much the women have suffered from the violation of their right to privacy. "Usually, that's what a jury does."
Helper said in November that installation of the surveillance camera "was not something that Russ (Simons, then the manager of the arena) or anyone with that authority would have authorized." Helper said last fall that the company's investigation showed that the dressing-room camera was used only once, during a Kats game in August. Simons resigned last month as general manager of Gaylord Entertainment Center to join a sports facility design and consulting firm in Kansas City, Mo.
The cheerleaders' lawsuit said that Day and Corn placed the camera in the dressing room. The lawsuit identified Day as the former director of security for Powers Management and Corn as a former employee of the company's audio-visual department. Neither Day nor Corn could be reached yesterday for comment. Jim Higgins, an attorney representing Corn, said in November that Corn quit his job at the arena partly because "he didn't appreciate the way he was brought in as being under suspicion in the videotape incident." Higgins said Corn denied any connection with the camera and denied that he ever saw the tapes of the cheerleaders. No hearing date has been set for the lawsuit. Laura Cording, who was the cheerleaders' coach, declined to comment on the lawsuit yesterday and referred questions to the group's lawyers.
Powers Management hired Nashville lawyer Hal Hardin, who is a former federal prosecutor, to conduct a private investigation after an employee reported finding the camera in the dressing room. Hardin said he assembled a team of former FBI agents and a former military intelligence officer, who found the tapes. Hardin said arena security officials reviewed the videotapes and destroyed them after he explained the results of his investigation to District Attorney Torry Johnson, who said he did not see any reason to file criminal charges against anyone.
25 September 2002, Ohio, USA: "Ohio man files $1.5M suit against Marriott: Hidden camera found in bathroom," by Randy Kenner, News-Sentinel staff writer.
An Ohio man filed a $1.5 million lawsuit Tuesday against the Knoxville Marriott hotel after finding a hidden camera in a bathroom light fixture in July.
Bryan Brewer discovered the small video camera after noticing a tiny black spot -- which he thought was an insect but turned out to be a hole -- in the fixture, according to the lawsuit. At the time Brewer, the vice president of a California company, was staying at the Marriott while on business. His attorney, K.O. Herston, filed the lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court. Named as defendants are Marriott International Inc. and Columbia Sussex Corp., a Fort Mitchell, Ky., corporation that operated at least 28 Marriotts with more than 8,500 rooms.
"The allegations have been turned over to the proper authorities, who we are cooperating with fully," said Doug Allen, the general manager of the downtown Marriott. Allen declined to comment any further, citing an ongoing investigation by the Knox County Sheriff's Department. Brewer, contacted Tuesday, declined comment.
According to the lawsuit, Brewer, 27, discovered the camera on the morning of July 11. "Thinking it might be an insect, Mr. Brewer swatted at the black spot, thereby inadvertently breaking the plastic cover on the light fixture," Herston wrote in the lawsuit. "He called the front desk, apologized and offered to pay for the fixture."
But while he was waiting for someone to fix the damage, Brewer noticed wires and discovered a small video camera. A further look by security personnel confirmed that it was an elaborate, self-contained, video recording system.
"The video camera was connected to the bathroom light switch such that the camera would begin recording when the bathroom light was turned on and would stop recording when (it) was turned off," the lawsuit states. Herston said that the equipment had a film of dust on it indicating that it had been there for some time. It also had a piece of tape on it indicating the room number, Room 253.
Herston said that Marriott employees let Brewer view the tape in their presence but refused to give it to him. The tape and video equipment have been turned over to the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department also has refused to give him the tape, Herston said. He also said he's not sure why the Sheriff's Department is investigating the case since the Knoxville Police Department is next door to the Marriott. Herston said the detective handling the case told him, "'All I know is that I was called to the scene and I responded to the call.'"
Marriott officials said they have inspected other rooms at the hotel but have refused to say what, if anything, was found, Herston said. "There are a lot of questions and we need some answers," Herston said before adding, "How many other people were taped?"Martha Dooley, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department, said the reason the tape isn't being turned over is because, "It is an ongoing investigation." As for the office handling the case, Dooley said, "We routinely answer calls from businesses and residences in the city as well as the county."
Someone from the hotel apparently called the Sheriff's Department directly. KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk said that KPD did not receive a call from the hotel.
The lawsuit contends that Brewer has suffered harm as a result of the discovery. "In Mr. Brewer's case, he has become paranoid," Herston indicated. "He hates to travel now and that has caused tension at work since his job requires so much travel. When he does travel, he spends a lot of time going over every inch of his hotel room to make sure it is safe. This has really affected his career and well-being." In addition to the $1.5 million in damages, Brewer also seeks the return of all copies of the videotaped recording of him. Brewer has not been back in Knoxville since the incident.
"If he comes back, he certainly won't stay at the Marriott," Herston said.
1 July 2003, Overton County, Tennessee: Overton County schools sued over locker room filming, by Claudette Riley.
Overton County parents upset that their children were filmed undressing in school locker rooms have filed suit, charging that school officials allowed surveillance cameras to be installed and then failed to secure the images. The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville. The parents have asked for $4.2 million in damages. They contend that the school system in Overton County, on the Upper Cumberland Plateau, violated students' rights by putting hidden cameras in Livingston Middle School's boys and girls locker rooms. The cameras reportedly captured students, ages 10-14, in various stages of undress.
A student from an Overton County elementary in Allons was visiting Livingston for an interscholastic basketball game in early January and noticed a "suspicious device" in a locker room. The student told school officials, who reportedly downplayed any concerns. The discovery triggered months of tough questions from parents, officials said.
"The parents have been devastated by the conduct of the school officials, by the videotaping and by the breach of trust," said attorney Mark Chalos, who represents 16 girls and one boy from Allons Elementary. "The parents entrusted school officials with their children and the school officials paid for, authorized and permitted the photographing of children getting undressed in a school locker room."
Chuck Cagle, lawyer for Overton County Schools, said he wouldn't comment yesterday because he hadn't read the lawsuit. He added that some of the school officials and board members named in the lawsuit were being served with summons papers throughout the day yesterday.
The company that installed the security cameras in several Overton County schools, including Livingston, also was named in the lawsuit. Officials with EduTech Inc., based in Dyersburg, Tenn., had no comment yesterday. The lawsuit contends that images captured by the cameras were stored on a hard drive in the office of Livingston's Assistant Principal Robert Jolley and were accessible through remote computer Internet connection. The images were reportedly accessed 98 times between July 2002 and January 2003 -- sometimes late at night and early in the morning -- and through Internet providers in Clarksville, Tenn.; Gainesboro, Tenn.; and Rock Hill, S.C.
[The lawsuit] also argues that school officials could have done more to protect the images, pointing out that the username and password required to access the images remained at the factory default setting and had never been changed. "There was an ability to protect the access," Chalos said.
William Needham, director of Overton County Schools, referred questions about the lawsuit to Cagle. But he confirmed that Jolley has been transferred to another school in the system. Chalos said he doesn't know if the cameras are still operating but doesn't want any other students to suffer the same embarrassment and anxiety as his clients. "We think there were lots and lots of people photographed who may not know it yet," Chalos said. "It's the parents' position that no one . . . has the right to photograph their children getting undressed and no one has the right to make those images accessible over the Internet."
11 July 2003, Atlanta, Georgia: Woman claims she was videotaped in Toys R Us restroom by the Associated Press.
A woman who says she noticed a video camera in the ceiling of an Alpharetta Toys R Us bathroom is suing the retailer for invasion of privacy. Tamara Perez says she noticed a hole in the ceiling above the commode while visiting the suburban Atlanta store on March 21. According to her lawsuit, Perez quickly left the womens restroom and asked her husband to investigate. Walter Perez moved a ceiling tile and found a video camera with a transmittal device, according to the lawsuit. "She was just overwhelmed, shocked and mortified this could happen, especially in a Toys R Us, where lots of children would be in that bathroom," said Perezs lawyer, Audrey Tolson. Tolson works for the Atlanta law firm whose partners include famed attorney Johnnie Cochran.
A spokeswoman for Toys R Us, which is based in Paramus, N.J., said the camera was not supposed to be there and that the company took immediate action when it was found. "The camera was not one of our surveillance cameras, nor was it placed with the knowledge of anyone associated with Toys R Us," spokeswoman Susan McLaughlin wrote in a statement. "There is no evidence that anything was recorded or broadcast. This appears to be an isolated incident, and we continue to work with police."
Perez's suit asks for unspecified damages for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. Perez also claims that the traumatic incident led to health problems because she was eight months pregnant at the time. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Fulton County State Court.
1 August 2003, Nashville, Tennessee: Company denies charges by Amanda Wardle.
A West Tennessee computer networking company has denied responsibility in a federal lawsuit charging Middle Tennessee school officials with negligently allowing video cameras to tape middle school aged children as they undressed in a school locker room. Dyersburg, Tenn.-based EduTech Inc. this month filed a response in Middle Tennessee's U.S. District Court denying charges that it placed video cameras in the locker room of Livingston Middle School in Overton County. The suit, filed by the parents of 17 students, charges school board members, school administrators and EduTech with violating the civil rights of middle school students and engaging in reckless, negligent behavior. It seeks more than $4 million in damages.
Legal documents claim that EduTech representatives installed a video camera surveillance system in Livingston Middle School and other Overton County schools in July 2002 at the direction of school administrators, and that, among other school locations, cameras were installed in locker rooms where students changed clothes. The suit claims that, when a child noticed a camera in a locker room several months later and raised questions about it, school administrators reviewed images from the locker room and said they were "nothing more than images of 'a few bras and panties.'" The images were also allegedly accessible via the Internet, and the suit claims they were viewed by individuals in at least two states.
In its response, EduTech stressed its position that cameras were not hidden. While the process involved in the installation of video surveillance equipment at the school is not detailed in the company's response, it notes that EduTech simply "put the [surveillance] equipment where it was told to put the equipment" when it was installed. EduTech denies, however, that it was instructed by school officials to place camera equipment in locker rooms, or that surveillance equipment was placed in locker rooms at all. While EduTech maintains that it should not be held responsible for any damages if court officials find liability in the case, it "pleads the doctrine of comparative fault" in any potential ruling of negligence. Representatives for EduTech declined to discuss the case further.
Overton County school officials have not commented on charges, but are expected to file their own response to the charges in coming weeks. The school board's attorney could not be reached for comment.
6 August 2003, Wilton Manors, Florida: Man Sues Over Bathroom Cameras: Lawsuit Claims Cameras Violated His Rights.
WILTON MANORS, Fla. -- A man is suing the city of Wilton Manors because he said police were watching him when he used the bathroom. The lawsuit claims restroom cameras at Colohatchee Park violated the unidentified man's rights. Police had arrested the man and charged him with public exposure based on evidence collected from the camera, but later dropped the charge. The man's lawyer, Gary Kollin, said he thought the city installed the cameras because they were concerned about sexual contact in the park.
"They invaded his privacy and they invaded the privacy of other people who were unaware of it by placing a video camera into a public restroom," Kollin said. A sign outside of the park said authorities use surveillance cameras. The city and the Police Department said they could not comment on a pending lawsuit.
10 September 2003, Beaufort, South Carolina: Suit: Camera violates privacy, by Noah Haglund.
A wall-mounted camera used to videotape the men's bathroom of a mid-island bar has invaded the privacy of bar patrons, according to a lawsuit filed in the Beaufort County Courthouse last week. The lawsuit, filed Sept. 1, accuses the owner of Vic's Tavern, Charles S. Cole Jr., of violating the privacy of two Beaufort County men -- Pawey Suchocki and Vince Bryant -- who used the bathroom earlier this year. The tavern, located at 430 William Hilton Parkway, posted no clear warning that a camera was being used in the bathroom, said the plaintiffs' attorney, Coleman Hookaylo Jr.
"My understanding is that the owner of Vic's Tavern, for whatever reason, decided he had to have surveillance of the men's bathroom," Hookaylo said. "By doing so, he violated the rights and expectations of everyone who entered that bathroom." The men are seeking $200,000 each for invasion of privacy and $200,000 each for infliction of emotional distress.
A surveillance tape recorded Suchocki, of Hilton Head Island, ripping the camera from the wall late at night on May 26 or early in the morning on May 27, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report. Hookaylo later returned the camera to the Sheriff's Office, saying that his client had seized it because he was "incensed," according to a letter sent by the attorney to the Sheriff's Office.
The tavern has a closed circuit system with four cameras, one of which was in the men's bathroom, the report said. Footage from the bathroom showed the sink and urinal, where people can be seen from behind while using it, the report said. The toilet cannot be seen when the stall door is closed, the report said. FBI agent Mike Hagen and assistant Solicitor Duffie Stone advised the Sheriff's Office that the taping did not pose any criminal offense, according to the report.
On Tuesday, neither Cole nor his attorney, Tom Finn, would comment on why the camera was installed. Cole called the lawsuit "frivolous" and "absurd." In the Sheriff's Office report, Cole said the camera was installed to catch vandals.
12 September 2003, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Strip traffic camera zooms in on bar-goers; State trooper spokesman says investigation ongoing, by Jon Gargis.
The traffic camera featured on Comcast Cable's Channel 45 was showing more than just traffic early Friday -- it was following people on the Strip. The Crimson White learned at about 1:45 a.m. Friday that the traffic camera at the intersection of University Boulevard and Reed Street, which usually remains stationary, was panning, tilting and zooming in on people and objects along the Strip. The Strip camera operator(s) manipulated the camera to zoom in on several college-aged women's breasts and buttocks as they walked down the street. The operator(s) also captured a group of young men who had spotted the camera's movement and were making various gestures and movements.
Joe Robinson, transportation director and city engineer for the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation, said the manipulated camera was controlled by someone from the Alabama State Troopers Office. "We don't condone that at the city, and we should think that neither would the State Troopers Office," Robinson said.
Trooper Chris Ellis, public information officer for the Alabama State Troopers Office, said Friday afternoon the department was still investigating and was not ready to release an official statement concerning the situation.
While Channel 45 usually shows an Alabama weather map for a few seconds and switches to various traffic cameras across the county for a few seconds at a time, the channel only showed the view of the University Boulevard and Reed Street intersection's camera. The instrumental music that usually plays on the channel was also absent during the broadcast of the Strip-focused camera.
Robinson said a number of agencies in addition to the Alabama State Troopers Office have camera control centers across the city and have access to the traffic cameras. The agencies include the Tuscaloosa DOT, the Alabama DOT, Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management. He added that the University of Alabama Police Department would have access to some of the cameras in the near future. Robinson said all control centers have access to all the cameras, but the Tuscaloosa DOT was removing access to some of the cameras at some of the locations.
Jon Howell, traffic systems manager for Tuscaloosa, added that though all control centers have access, the camera system logs all cameras' movements and tracks where the camera commands originate. Howell said it was unknown Friday afternoon if an inadvertent keystroke was the cause of putting the camera's view as the sole video on the channel or if the act was intentional. "We can tell where [the commands] came from, but right now we don't believe this act was an intentional override to put [the camera's view] on the channel," Howell said.Howell and Robinson said they were made aware of the problem by the Tuscaloosa Police Department at 3:30 a.m. They said they were told the camera movement began after 3 a.m. and lasted until 4 or 4:30 a.m. They added they were unaware Friday afternoon of any camera manipulation before 3 a.m.
The CW discovered that Channel 45 had been taken off the air sometime Friday afternoon. It was still off at 11 p.m. Friday.
Robinson said actions could be taken against agencies that allow misuse of the cameras to happen. "We're concerned that this does not happen again," he said.
15 September 2003, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Three Arrested After Traffic Camera Aimed as Passersby, The Associated Press.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Images from a traffic camera that was used instead to monitor passersby near the University of Alabama led to the arrests of three people allegedly misbehaving on the street, police said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, officials said they were still investigating who had diverted the focus of the camera from traffic -- where it normally is used to monitor vehicles -- to pedestrians, particularly young women. The remote-control camera, located at an intersection near a row of nightclubs, usually shows traffic. But officials said someone in a state trooper office diverted the camera to focus on pedestrians in the pre-dawn hours last Friday. Footage broadcast citywide on a cable TV channel showed several people, and the camera zoomed in on the breasts and buttocks of several young women walking past.
A 22-year-old woman was charged with public lewdness about 4:10 a.m. after baring her breasts in front of the [obviously visible] camera, said Capt. David Hartin, and a 25-year-old man was charged with disorderly conduct moments later after allegedly grabbing his crotch as cars went by. A 28-year-old man was accused of public intoxication and resisting arrest after dancing in the street along a row of bars called "the strip," said Hartin. Hartin said the three were arrested after an officer on dinner break saw images from the camera on TV and notified headquarters, which sent officers to the area.
Chris Ellis, a spokesman for the state trooper office in Tuscaloosa, said the camera was being used for surveillance after a report that a man had exposed himself. "Our officer was absolutely not inappropriately following young women," Ellis said. "The trooper was using the camera to monitor traffic and some type of criminal activity." Ellis, who refused to identify the trooper, said no disciplinary action was planned.
But Joe Robinson, director of the city transportation department, said he was frustrated and angry over what he saw as the misuse of the camera, one of 31 traffic monitors in Tuscaloosa. "This certainly is not what our cameras were intended for," Robinson said. "We have worked long and hard to get this program up and going and get it to the public for information purposes."
The city has disabled troopers' ability to control the cameras, he said. Bryan Fair, a professor of constitutional law at Alabama, said the incident appeared to have more to do with the misuse of government property than civil liberties. "Clearly, that camera wasn't designed to zero in on young coeds," he said. "If it is for traffic purposes, then it should be used as such and not for the self-gratification of a trooper."
18 October 2003, South Carolina: Bar defends use of men's room camera, written by E.J. Schultz.
A security camera installed in the men's bathroom at Vic's Tavern was put there to protect against vandalism and did not violate anyone's privacy, says the owner of the Hilton Head Island bar in a response to a lawsuit filed by two bar patrons. The patrons, Pawey Suchocki and Vince Bryant, are seeking $200,000 each for invasion of privacy and $200,000 each for infliction of emotional stress.
A surveillance tape recorded Suchocki, of Hilton Head, ripping the camera from the wall in late May, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report. The bar owner, Charles S. Cole Jr., claims the camera did not violate the plaintiffs' privacy because it "was in plain view, as evidenced by the fact that Mr. Suchocki stole it," according to the response, filed earlier this month by attorney Tom Finn. The response also states that the camera "was not in a position to record patrons actually using the facilities."
Vic's installed security cameras throughout the restaurant to protect against vandalism, which, according to the lawsuit response, started in spring 2001. The bar owner moved a camera into the men's room this past May because that is where most of the vandalism was occurring, the response states. For example, according to the response, a sink and air freshener were repeatedly ripped off the wall and vandals used knives to carve into the walls of the stall. Vic's is asking the court to dismiss the complaint. The bar also is seeking to be reimbursed for the $500 damage it says was done to the men's room camera as a result of it being ripped from the wall.
4 November 2003, the Philippines: City sets surprise checks on dorms, boarding houses by Christine Mae A. Pelayo.
To guard against hidden cameras and other surveillance equipment, the city government through the Office of the Building Official will conduct surprise inspections in dormitories and boarding houses in Bacolod City. This came after reports disclosed that an instructor in one university in the city installed a surveillance equipment or a hidden camera inside his boarding house's bathroom. Mayor Luzviminda Valdez stressed the need to regulate the facilities inside boarding houses.
"The privacy of a person should be respected such as in hotels. Surveillance equipment should not be installed in rooms because it is an encroachment on privacy," said Valdez. She stressed the adverse motive in the installation of surveillance equipment in the guise of security measures should be determined.
4 December 2003, Pittsford, New York: Pittsford: Girls were videotaped by Dolores Orman.
Videotapes discovered in the alleged pornography case involving a Pittsford Sutherland High School custodian show about 12 unsuspecting female students and staff members in a restroom, a Pittsford school district official said Wednesday. The district suspended head custodian Allen Wemes, 52, a 20-year-employee, on Nov. 26 when he was allegedly found with pornographic material at the school. District officials contacted the Monroe County Sheriff's Office the same day and turned over videotapes and computer disks they had discovered. No charges have been filed as of Wednesday.
"It appears that the videotapes were taken from inside one female restroom at Sutherland high school and that the people on the videotapes were unaware they were being recorded," Superintendent Mary Alice Price said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday. "This includes approximately 12 students and staff members."
Price indicated that she didn't release those details in her initial announcement Monday about Wemes' suspension without pay, because the district wanted to notify the "identifiable individuals" on the videotapes and "not compromise the ongoing police investigation." She made more details public Wednesday, according to her statement, "as a result of the assistant district attorney's office preemptive disclosure of information today." Assistant District Attorney Michael Green was featured in a television broadcast segment Wednesday.
District officials have made a sweep of all restrooms and locker rooms in all district buildings and two such sweeps were done at Sutherland, Price said. "Let me assure parents, students and staff that their safety is of our utmost concern." Nancy Wayman, district spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the district would have counselors on standby for students and staff if they need them.
[...] Monroe County District Attorney Howard Relin said the sheriff's office has given the case high priority. Relin said he expects the investigation would be wrapped up within the next 10 days or so. The state's recently enacted unlawful surveillance or video voyeurism law makes it illegal to use a mechanical, digital or electronic device to capture the image of another person in a place, such as a restroom or bedroom, where the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The penalty is up to four years in prison for a first offense and up to seven years in prison for a second.
When a reporter called Wemes' home in Phelps, Ontario County, on Wednesday night, an unidentified woman who answered said Wemes didn't wish to speak to the press and had hired a lawyer.
13 January 2004, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts: High school camera will be shut off today by Erich Luening.
In the wake of public concern over the use of a surveillance camera in the high school, officials have decided to turn the camera off until a written policy on its use is adopted. Martha's Vineyard Regional High School principal Margaret Regan told the school committee last night that starting today the camera will not operate until the committee agrees upon the limits of its use. The move comes at the recommendation of attorneys for the high school, who advised administrators to have a written policy in place that lays out how, when, and where the camera, or future cameras, may be used.
The decision by the principal comes after questions were raised by students and members of the community following the use of the surveillance camera's videotape in an investigation into a threatening prank written in one of the school's girls bathroom last month.
"We consulted our lawyers last week, and their recommendation is that we do not have a written policy," Regan reported to the school committee. "We will disconnect the camera until we do."
The original intent of the camera -- which can be moved to different spots throughout the school, including the cafeteria and other meeting places -- was to identify intruders in the building at night. But the use of the cameras in the investigation into the prank went beyond that initial use and caused many in the community wonder how far the school would go in watching students and faculty.
5 February 2004, Texas City, Texas: Scandal erupted in finalist's former dept. by Alicia Gooden.
Allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced in connection with a second of three finalists vying to become chief of the city's police department. Reports surfaced Monday that job candidate Billy Hammitt resigned as chief of a North Texas department after 13 women filed federal lawsuits against the city alleging numerous sexually related civil rights violations while they were held in the city jail. That lawsuit came to light just days after reports became public claiming acting police chief Anthony Morgan was the subject of sexual harassment or abuse allegations from at least five women over a 10-year period [...]
A U.S. district court judge dismissed all 13 lawsuits for lack of merit, but attorneys for the women said Wednesday they had appealed that ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hammitt was not named as a defendant in the lawsuits, but the documents allege he was ultimately responsible for jail's operations and policies, according to plaintiffs' attorneys. The women allege, among other things, that they were forced to have sex with jailers in exchange for early release. The lawsuits also claim that Hammitt rescinded a policy of issuing female prisoners panties and bras. Instead, they were given one-piece jumpsuits and were forced to expose themselves to video surveillance cameras when using the bathroom [...]
1 April 2004, New York City, New York: Video Of Suicide In Bronx Housing Project Turns Up On Website.
Police said Wednesday they are investigating how a videotape capturing a suicide in a Bronx housing project ended up on a pornographic website. The video shows 22-year-old Paris Lane of Manhattan shooting himself in the mouth. It was recorded on March 16 by a surveillance camera in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. Police say Lane went there to visit his girlfriend and shot himself in the lobby. Lane's family, who asked police for a copy of the tape but were turned down, later saw the shooting online. Now they want to know how the website's owners got the tape.
"At this time we don't know who had possession of the tape," said Charles Robinson, the attorney for Paris Lane's estate. "These are all questions that we will find the answers to, and you can be sure that when we find out who is responsible for it we will hold them accountable."
NYPD investigators have obtained a subpoena that would allow them to find out who operates the website. Meanwhile, the family's attorney says the video has been taken off the Internet.
The Morris Houses are part of the city Housing Authority's VIPER program. The Police Department monitors surveillance cameras in participating developments 24 hours a day in an effort to reduce crime in the projects. The New York Civil Liberties Union is calling on the NYPD to have better supervision over who has access to the tapes.
1 April 2004, New York City, New York: New York Police Seek Leak Of Video. The New York Post.
A confidential police video that shows a young rapper kissing his girlfriend goodbye before blowing his brains out in a Bronx housing project turned up on a porn Web site -- and cops have launched a probe to nail the sicko who leaked it. Aspiring hip-hop performer Paris Lane, 22, put the barrel of a 9 mm handgun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a lobby of a building at the Morris Houses after the girl got into the elevator. The horrifying scene, just after midnight on March 16, was captured by a surveillance camera monitored by the NYPD anti-crime VIPER unit. While video images from the cameras are not public, the grisly scenario found its way onto a porn site that features scenes of hardcore sex and violence. It appeared under the twisted title of: "Introducing: The Self-Cleansing Housing Projects." Concerned friends alerted Lane's grieving mom Martha Williams, who went online to see for herself.
"I saw my son and I ran out of the room. I knew it was real . . . I had talked to him the night it happened and said 'I love you' and he said, 'I love you more than life itself,' " Williams told The Post. The victim's sister, Tonya, added: "It's disgusting. Disgusting! How somebody could give this tape out?"
A police official said: "The elevator starts going up and a half-second later he pulls something out of his pocket. You see that it's a gun and he puts it in his mouth and then, 'Boom.'"
The family's lawyer, Charles Robinson, said a VIPER cop or computer technician must have posted the scene. The Internal Affairs Division said it had obtained subpoenas in a bid to find the culprit. Paul Dinin, editor of the Atlanta-based porn site, said he is cooperating with police. Some of the site's fans are "wacky, screwed-up people," he added.
Lane's girlfriend Krystin Simmons, 16, said the former Rice HS honor student who rapped under the name "Para Dice" seemed "down and depressed" and told her "he was moving and he would contact me when he got to his destination." Cops said Lane was despondent over the relationship.
1 April 2004, New York City, New York: Suicide video posted on Web by Sean Gardiner.
Police yesterday said they are conducting an investigation to determine how the footage of a suicide taken two weeks ago by a department surveillance camera ended up on a pornographic Web site. The March 16 suicide of Paris Lane in the elevator of the Morris Houses in the Bronx was captured on one of the 200 closed-circuit cameras set up throughout the housing project. Lane, 22, who police say was despondent because his girlfriend was breaking up with him, killed himself with a 9-mm handgun, according to officials. The Morris Houses is one of 15 city housing projects that is part of the Police Department's Video Interactive Patrol Enhanced Response program, said Paul Browne, a police spokesman.
Two days ago, Lane's foster mother, Martha Williams, learned that his suicide was being watched by many in the neighborhood because a video of it had been posted on the Internet. She went to Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields seeking help.
"She was very upset that this had shown up on a Web site, and a pornographic Web site, no less," said Dan Wilson, Fields' spokesman. "She wanted to get some questions answered."
Browne said that officers from the Internal Affairs Bureau confirmed that the Web site's suicide video appeared to be the surveillance camera footage. That footage is stored on a compact disc, which is still in police possession. Browne said Internal Affairs investigators are trying to ascertain how police property got onto the Web site. According to the Web site, the video was posted at 5:49 a.m. March 28. The video of the suicide has since been removed from the site, a hodgepodge of pornographic and crude pictures and videos and a chat room discussing the images. Most of those who submitted comments about the video argued about its authenticity. However, a writer named "Smitty4699" claimed it was "100 percent real, I submitted it, I know the cop who was at the scene."
Browne said that investigators obtained an administrative subpoena for the Web site yesterday and were attempting to obtain the identity of the site's owner as the first step in trying to discover how the police video footage ended up on it.
"It is bad enough that a family has to bury their child after such a horrible occurrence, but to suffer this kind of indignity is outrageous and deplorable," Fields stated in a news release. "We simply must have answers."
1 June 2004, Chicago, Illinois: Child tutor accused of creating child porn.
The director of a tutoring center in Chicago has been charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography. Sixty-two-year-old James Bradshaw was arrested Saturday. A Cook County judge set his bail yesterday at 75-thousand dollars. Police and prosecutors say Bradshaw operated a sophisticated video surveillance system in the bathroom of the Beverly Instructional Center. They say they've recovered numerous videotapes of children in the bathroom. Police also seized computers from the center. A woman police say lives with Bradshaw told reporters yesterday the cameras were used only to catch people scrawling graffiti in the bathroom.
1 June 2004, Chicago, Illinois: Child tutor accused of creating porn, by Stefano Esposito and Lucio Guerrero.
It began Saturday, when a man picking up his 12-year-old daughter from a Beverly tutoring center noticed a peculiar flashing red light inside the center's only bathroom. The man looked closer and saw what appeared to be a surveillance camera hidden within an exhaust fan, the man later told Chicago Police. Now, Beverly Instructional Center's director, a 62-year-old man who has tutored Chicago kids of all ages for 30-plus years, has been charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography.
On Monday, as worried parents called police to try to find out more details about the arrest, Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan set James H. Bradshaw's bail at $75,000. Police had arrested Bradshaw on Saturday. Police and prosecutors say Bradshaw operated a sophisticated video surveillance system in the center's bathroom, and they have recovered numerous videotapes, some of which include youths masturbating. Investigators have identified the daughter of the man who discovered the surveillance apparatus as one of those caught on tape.
Some of the titles of the videotapes included: "Bathroom," "Rear room," and "Bad kids," according to court documents. Among the 11 computers police seized from the center, located in the 2200 block of West 95th Street, is Bradshaw's laptop computer. It allegedly contained numerous child pornographic images, some with children as young as 2 years old, prosecutors said.
And in an Internet autobiography, Bradshaw candidly details his struggles with rage, and the fact that he is "obsessive compulsive" and a "recovering batterer." "Hi I'm Jim: I'm a co-dependent, toxic shame-based, adult child of an alcoholic, and as such, I'm powerless over my emotions, my actions and my reactions," writes Bradshaw on a site that is linked to his Beverly tutoring school Web site.
To date, investigators have nothing linking the computer images to the bathroom videos, nor do they have evidence that Bradshaw molested any children -- but they haven't ruled it out. "The whole thrust of the investigation is whether [Bradshaw] physically had acts with any of the children," Chicago Police Lt. David O'Callaghan said Monday. And police don't yet know how long the video camera operated, although they suspect at least several months, or how many students' activities were recorded. One police source said, "It's going to be a major, major case."
Bradshaw has spoken briefly to investigators, but not about the cameras or the computer images, police said. A woman police say lives with Bradshaw told reporters Monday that the cameras were used only to catch people scrawling graffiti in the bathroom.
Shauna Boliker, who heads the Cook County state's attorney's sex crimes division, said Monday the investigation could be lengthy and delicate. Investigators plan to talk to the 12-year-old girl today. "We want to do it in the most sensitive way we can," Boliker said.
Meanwhile, in Beverly, the tutoring center was closed Monday. Peering inside, a passerby could see racks of children's books, ceiling tiles torn down, and wires dangling from the ceiling. Papers were strewn all over the floor. A sign on one inside wall near the bathroom reads: "Smile. You are on candid camera" [...]
5 June 2004, Arizona: 2 at casino fired for breast photos: Dealers, customers pictured, by John Stearns, The Arizona Republic.
Two members of Fort McDowell Casino's regulatory office were fired last fall because one man used casino surveillance cameras "to photograph the breast area of patrons and employees" and the other, his supervisor, condoned the action, according to state documents released this week.
"It was an unfortunate, appalling incident," Edward Roybal, executive director of Fort McDowell's Tribal Gaming Office, said Friday. He added that the tribe took swift corrective measures when the actions were revealed. Most of the women who were photographed were employees, primarily card dealers, said Roybal, a lawyer whom the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation hired earlier this year to tighten its Tribal Gaming Office operations. Roybal said he believes all the photographs have been destroyed, but he couldn't guarantee it. Donald N. Alfieri, a gaming inspector at the casino, and his supervisor, Merlin Jones, the compliance manager and later acting executive director of the Tribal Gaming Office, were fired last fall.
Alfieri, 59, could not be reached Friday, but in a state Department of Gaming investigative report he denied taking inappropriate photos. He said in the report that photos he took were of dealers not wearing badges, adding that photos he took were ordered as part of investigations.
Reached Friday, Jones, 44, denied condoning Alfieri's behavior. He said the state's investigation seemed biased and suggested that employees who spoke against him were upset because he had recently implemented stricter work rules. Also, he said, people who would have supported him were not interviewed. Following investigations by the tribe and Department of Gaming, the department this week said it intended to deny Alfieri's state certification to work in the industry. This is essentially a notice of intent to revoke his license. He has 30 days to appeal. He did not appeal revocation of his tribal license. The state also acknowledged the tribe's revocation of Jones' tribal gaming license, agreeing with its action. Tribal members are required only to be licensed by their tribe's gaming office, however the state can recommend denial or approval.
Alfieri is accused of zooming in on female dealers and customers with a "point, tilt, zoom" camera and creating photographs on four printers hooked to the cameras. The action occurred between April and September 2003, according to the state investigative report. It's unknown how many photos were taken, but one female security employee said she witnessed Alfieri take hundreds of photos of employees, the state report said. "[Jones] was aware of Alfieri's conduct but did not take any administrative action to correct this problem," the report said.
In a telephone interview Friday, Jones said he reprimanded Alfieri verbally upon learning of the photographs and told him he'd be fired if it happened again. After more photographs reportedly were taken, someone reported it to the tribe's human resources department and both men were put on leave Sept. 18 pending a tribal investigation. They were fired within weeks. Jones said he reprimanded Alfieri after he saw about 10 to 15 photos of employees, adding that "nothing was risque."
"I gave him a chance basically," Jones said of the warning. "He was a very, very good worker. I guess this was a minor flaw."
Raphael Bear, president of the tribe, said in a written statement: "We deplore the actions of these two former employees and are using this unfortunate incident to reinforce the need for strict compliance with our rules and procedures on the part of all tribal employees. . . . In this instance, wrongdoers were exposed, investigated and punished by tribal authorities." Roybal called it significant that the tribe fired a tribal member. "Mr. Jones had been working toward the [director's] position for years," he added.
Since the investigation, cameras are hooked only to one printer, which has been put under surveillance, he said. A log of prints also is being kept and is subject to inspection.
17 June 2004, Adrina, Michigan: Owner convicted of taping clients -- Danny Eugene Daulton was convicted of eavesdropping with a hidden camera by Dennis Pelham.
A jury quickly decided Wednesday there is a difference between videotaping nude customers in a tanning room and using security cameras at convenience stores or banks. After 30 minutes of deliberations, guilty verdicts in 16 electronic eavesdropping cases were returned in Lenawee County Circuit Court against Danny Eugene Daulton, an Adrian nail and tanning salon owner. Daulton, 47, was arrested after police on Feb. 27 found a hidden camera in the tanning room of Rock-N-Nails on South Main Street and five tapes of customers.
Taping people with a hidden camera in the tanning room was no different than using security cameras at stores, gasoline stations or automatic teller machines, argued defense attorney Judith Varga of Jackson. Ten victims of the hidden-camera taping at Daulton's Rock-N-Nails testified Tuesday they believed they were in a private area when they undressed.
"You don't take your clothes off to go to the ATM. You don't take your clothes off to gas your car," assistant Lenawee County prosecutor Frank Riley responded to Varga's argument. Police led Daulton out of the courtroom Wednesday afternoon and took him to jail after Judge Harvey A. Koselka told him he is now a convicted felon and revoked his $10,000 bond. He was convicted of 16 counts of installing an eavesdropping device. Koselka dismissed 16 additional counts of divulging information from eavesdropping after no evidence was presented that Daulton shared the tapes with anyone. Daulton did not testify during his trial, but Varga argued that witnesses confirmed he talked to many people about thefts at his business.
"In the last two days we have heard the story of a businessman who has been pushed too far," Varga said. Police told him they could not help because there was no evidence to show who was stealing, she said. "He set up his camera and VCR and went after his proof," Varga said. People rarely notice surveillance cameras when they go to a store or bank, Varga said. Several witnesses testified they saw notices posted in the tanning room that said the area was being monitored, she said. "Should the defendant be punished for our neglect if we failed to notice our surroundings?" Varga asked the jury.
"All he had to do was go out to (a hardware store) and buy a lock for $1.98. He locks the door and the problem is solved," Riley responded. "That camera was not for theft protection. That camera was for the theft of privacy," Riley told the jury. The camera was focused on where people would undress and get into his tanning bed, he argued, instead of being aimed at the door of a storage closet in the tanning room. If the camera was for security, he asked, why were tapes that showed nothing but nude tanning customers found hidden behind a refrigerator in Daulton's garage? "You saw the tapes. You know why he kept them," Riley told jurors. "The evidence shows that his reason was his own fun. His own pleasure."
Varga called 10 defense witnesses Wednesday morning in questioning that was often cut short by prosecution objections to testimony about opinions of Daulton's character. Two former customers said they recalled seeing a sign in the tanning room. Diana Wheeler said she began wearing a bathing suit to tan after seeing a notice on a microwave oven door in the room that said the area was being monitored. Roberta Kastel, who said she was a friend and customer of Daulton, recalled seeing a sign about monitoring and assumed there could be surveillance of the room. Another customer, Judy Harper, said Daulton talked with her a couple years earlier about thefts from his business. "He said he had to do something about it," Harper said.
The prosecution's case presented Tuesday included playing tapes of three women aged 18, 20 and 23 who undressed in the tanning room. The tapes were played on a television angled toward the jury and not visible to the courtroom audience that included the three women and most of the other 10 victims who testified. Adrian police said they were unable to identify a number of other people on the tapes. Koselka ordered all the tapes seized by police to be preserved at the Adrian Police Department at least through the appeal process. "They are not to be disclosed to anybody. They are not to be used by anybody," Koselka ordered. Sentencing for Daulton was scheduled for July 20. He faces a maximum two-year prison term for his convictions on charges of installing an eavesdropping device.
2 July 2004, New York City, USA: "Lawyers Sue Over Tapes With Detainees," The New York Times, by Nina Bernstein.
When lawyers from the Legal Aid Society made their way into the federal detention center in Brooklyn in the fall of 2001 to meet with detainees, they said, they were alarmed to see video cameras on the walls. Concerned about the confidentiality of their conversations with their shackled clients -- immigrant detainees who were rounded up after the Sept. 11 attacks -- the lawyers asked whether they were being taped. Prison officials assured them, they say, that the cameras were turned off. But the cameras were running. The federal prison was intentionally recording the lawyer-client conversations in violation of federal law and prison policy, according to a December report by the inspector general of the Justice Department, Glenn A. Fine. Now, in a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn yesterday against the retired warden of the detention center and other prison officers, six of the lawyers are seeking thousands of dollars in damages for the secret videotaping of their conversations at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
"Surreptitiously taping attorney-client communications is a direct attack on the role of counsel and on these Legal Aid attorneys' well-established constitutional rights," said Nelson A. Boxer, a partner of the Dechert law firm, who is representing the lawyers without fee. The plaintiffs are seeking damages under a federal statute that prohibits electronic eavesdropping without court approval and sets $10,000 for each violation. They have agreed to donate any money award to the Legal Aid Society, they said.
Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said she could not comment on the lawsuit, which cites the former warden, Dennis W. Hasty, and unknown prison officers as defendants. Mr. Hasty did not return calls, and Michael Martinez, a lawyer who represents Mr. Hasty as a defendant in another lawsuit, said he could not speak to the charges because he had not seen the lawsuit yet. Ms. Billingsley said the bureau is still conducting its own administrative investigation, begun about three months ago when the Justice Department decided not to prosecute any of its employees for their actions.
One plaintiff in the new suit, Olivia Cassin, noticed a video camera at her meetings in December 2001 with Purna Raj Bajracharya, a Nepalese citizen who had been held in solitary confinement at the center since Oct. 25. Except for a visa violation, the only reason for his detention was that he had videotaped a building in Queens that, unknown to him, had an F.B.I. office on 3 of 12 floors. The F.B.I. officer who had helped arrest him had already cleared him of all suspicion.
The lawyers said their suit in part reflects frustration with the Justice Department's failure to hold anyone accountable for violations documented by its own inspector general in reports issued last year. The December report cited more than 40 examples in which lawyers' conversations with clients had been recorded, and concluded that the taping violated the law and interfered with the detainees' access to legal counsel. The tapes of confidential conversations between lawyers and clients were among more than 300 recovered by the inspector general's investigators only after one prison official had ordered them destroyed and others had denied their existence for months. Many tapes, the report said, showed federal officers physically mistreating detainees. But except for a handful of pictures used in the December report, no videotapes have been made public, and no one has been punished.
"If the Justice Department is not going to defend the Constitution, then we will," said Bryan Lonegan, one of the plaintiffs. In explaining a decision not to prosecute anyone, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office in Brooklyn, Robert Nardoza, has said, "There was not sufficient evidence, mainly because all the witnesses had been deported and were unavailable."
Mr. Lonegan said that explanation amazed him. "Here is an officer of the Department of Justice, who has declined to prosecute another officer of the Department of Justice, who has committed crimes documented by another officer of the Department of Justice, because yet another officer of the Department of Justice has deported the witnesses," he said. "And you have to ask, where is the justice in that?" So far the Legal Aid Society has been stymied in its efforts to obtain the tapes of its own lawyers' conferences with detainees under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Lonegan added. It first requested the tapes last January from the office of the inspector general, but was directed to the Bureau of Prisons instead.
Originals or copies of all the tapes cited in the reports have been kept by the office of the inspector general, Paul K. Martin, the deputy inspector general, said yesterday. But according to department regulations, he added, the Bureau of Prisons can determine whether to release them. In a letter this week, the bureau told Legal Aid, which is struggling financially, that it would first have to pay $70,500 for research costs. "There is no evidence that releasing the information to you will contribute significantly to the understanding of the general public at large of how the Federal Bureau of Prisons operates," the bureau said in refusing to waive a fee.
27 August 2004, Ithaca, New York: "Landlord accused of setting up video cameras in college students' apartment." The Associated Press.
A college student called police after discovering a pinhole camera in the bathroom of the apartment she shared with three women, and now her landlord is charged with unlawful surveillance. David A. Church, 44, of Ithaca, faces four counts of unlawful video surveillance, a felony that can draw up to four years in prison. Church owns several rental properties near Cornell University. Police said they searched two other apartments and found two pinhole cameras and several video recordings of at least four students. Friends told local reporters that the university relocated the victims, who were members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
27 August 2004, Ithaca, New York: Landlord accused of filming women: Spy cameras hidden in bathrooms. By Roger Dupuis II and Andrew Tutino.
An Ithaca landlord was charged with videotaping female tenants without their knowledge after police found surveillance equipment in two of his rental properties this week. Police charged David A. Church, 44, of 307 College Ave. No. 1, Ithaca, with eight counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance, a class E felony, in connection with incidents at two of his Ithaca properties. The incidents took place from May 2003 through this week, court documents said. The news shocked the Cornell University campus, where some of the tenants were students.
"I am deeply troubled and concerned about the allegations that a landlord in Ithaca has grossly violated the privacy of his tenants, a number of whom are Cornell students," Cornell University President Jeffrey Lehman said. "The safety and well-being of our students is of the highest importance to us." Tommy Bruce, Cornell's vice president for media and community relations, said the university is providing support for student tenants who have chosen to leave Church's properties.
In court documents obtained Friday, Church is recorded as having admitted to setting up video cameras in two of his rental properties, at 404-406 University Ave. and 108 E. Yates St. The women have not been publicly identified. Numerous attempts to contact Church Friday were unsuccessful On Friday afternoon, a mattress and other household items could be seen stacked against the wall on a front porch at the University Avenue house, and two young men there appeared to be moving things.
Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services at Cornell, convened a crisis management task force on Friday to handle issues of emergency housing, finances and legal issues, as well as provide psychological support, according to a Cornell statement.
While they were executing a search warrant at his College Avenue apartment early Wednesday morning, Church apparently told police that he hid a camera in the bathroom of one of the apartments and later moved the camera to a different apartment's bathroom during the past year, according to court documents.
"You watched it in real time?" an Ithaca police officer -- unidentified in court documents -- asked. "Yes," Church said. "I hooked up the Sony Handicam to the pinhole camera and watched while it was happening. I later edited out the dead stuff, where nothing was going on, when I dubbed the tape to VHS. I know that sounds bad." During the interview with police, Church said he started taping at the Yates Street apartment in November 2003, and at the University Avenue apartment in March or April of 2004. Church identified some of the victims during his police interview, expressing remorse about his actions, according to court documents.
"I owe an apology to those girls," Church said. "What I did was wrong. I betrayed their trust. They're people that pay me." Church told police that he was not actively taping the women any longer.
A current tenant at 404 University Ave. found the camera on Wednesday and alerted police, which touched off an investigation and search of Church's properties. The police recovered two pinhole cameras and numerous video recordings as a result of the search. The investigation is continuing and additional charges are pending.
New law used Police charged Church under a relatively new law, passed last year by the state Legislature. Known as Stephanie's Law, it carries penalties for acts of video voyeurism. The law calls for video voyeurs to be subject to presumptive registration with the New York State Sex Offender Registry.
"There was a real gap in the law that Stephanie's Law addressed," said Heather Campbell, education director at the Advocacy Center in Ithaca. "This wasn't something that was addressed. Acts like this are huge boundary violations." Campbell said the Advocacy Center provides support in cases similar to this one, where a victim was subject to domestic violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment. "The victims could experience feelings of having their privacy violated," she said, adding that she couldn't say whether the Advocacy Center was helping the women involved in the Church case because of confidentiality requirements.
Though this was the first time Ithaca police charged someone under Stephanie's Law, fears of such privacy invasions have existed in the student community for some time, according to Lt. Tim Williams of IPD [...]
25 September 2004, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Resignation Follows Folcroft Wiretaps.
Borough Manager Anthony Truscello has announced his resignation amid an investigation of the use of surveillance cameras to spy on police. Truscello, 67, said Friday that he is resigning effective Oct. 1. He said his decision was sealed Tuesday after about 300 people came to borough hall in support of police privacy.
"To say my resignation is in the best interest of the borough would be a lie," Truscello told the Delaware County Daily Times for Saturday's editions. "The best interest of the borough is my continued work to make life better for borough residents."
The Delaware County District Attorney's Office is investigating Truscello in connection with the installation of the cameras. Truscello has denied wrongdoing, saying he hired a firm to install the surveillance devices to protect the borough's interests. He maintains that any surveillance was conducted because of complaints he received about police. Those complaints included concerns about a lack of a police presence, as well as claims that officers told residents to file private complaints and that some were sleeping on duty.
"I was doing my job," he said.
With the exception of one officer who is no longer on the force, Police Chief Ed Christie says there have been no complaints about officers sleeping on the job in two years. A private investigator hired by Christie found several pinhole cameras placed in smoke detectors -- one in a hallway, one in the squad room and one in the evidence room. One of the cameras had a microphone installed in it, making it capable of eavesdropping, according to an affidavit filed by county detectives in May.
24 February 2005, New York, New York: Did NYPD Cameras Invade A Couple's Privacy? Was It Appropriate Use Of Surveillance Equipment? CBS 2 News.
CBS 2 has obtained a videotape that the New York City police department doesn't want you to see. It shows cops on surveillance just before last year's Republican Convention in Manhattan. But it is what they were checking out that is a little disturbing.
August 27, 2004, just before the Republican National convention a police helicopter hovers over the East Village covering the critical mass ecological protest supporting more bicycle use. Hundreds are arrested. The police helicopter is equipped with an infra red camera which records images by how much heat is given off, thereby enabling police literally to see in complete darkness. The police dutifully survey the area, but then they focus on a couple in a passionate embrace kissing and fondling each other on a roof top terrace. The police infra scope stays on the scene for a while and then pulls away, but then it comes back a second time to watch the couple and then a third time. However, it must be said that the couple is in complete darkness only an infrared thermal detecting camera could see this scene. The police scope then comes back to follow the woman and the warm footprints of her bare feet.
CBS 2 tracked down and showed the video to the man in the embrace, music company owner Jeff Rosner.
"I feel my privacy was invaded. We were on top floor nearest tall building is 2 blocks away and I have trees," says Rosner. The woman in the police sights was too embarrassed to talk to CBS 2. "She was concerned we were caught in a more embarrassing moment," says Rosner.
CBS 2 also showed the tape to the National Lawyers Guild. One of its members arrested during the critical mass demonstration obtained the video for the criminal case against her.
Meanwhile, what does the New York City police department say about the video? After mulling over its response for 24 hours and all CBS 2 got out of police headquarters was a no comment. So we cannot answer if the police department considers this appropriate use of high-tech equipment. We cannot answer if the police helicopters will in the future try to videotape and save New Yorkers making love on rooftops in complete darkness. They are hidden except for the NYPD's infra red scope in helicopters hovering 500 feet above.
21 April 2005, San Francisco, California: SF cop who reportedly ogled women is suspended for 9 months Bay City News.
A San Francisco police officer has been suspended from the department for nine months for reportedly using surveillance cameras to ogle women at San Francisco International Airport, according to a spokesman with the San Francisco Police Commission. Officer William Rossi received the maximum penalty, short of termination, Sgt. Joe Reilly said today.
"That's three-quarters of a year's salary. That's a big hit," Reilly said. Officer Rossi is also being penalized for reportedly writing derogatory sexual slurs on a police lieutenant's helmet. "The commission was extremely upset with his use of the slur language," Reilly said.
Rossi was supposed to be patrolling airport roads and parking lots during his Feb. 29, 2004 shift, when he reportedly used the airport's closed-circuit television system to focus on women's breasts and buttocks, police Chief Heather Fong said in charging documents. Rossi allegedly spent a total of three hours manipulating and monopolizing six of the cameras, charging documents say. He reportedly ignored coworkers' warnings that he should not be using the cameras, saying "he did not care since he was not assigned to the substation he would not get in trouble," according to the charging documents.
The commission found Rossi guilty of bringing discredit on the department and failing to devote his entire attention to his duties. He was also found guilty of writing derogatory sexual slurs on the lieutenant's helmet on April 25, 2004. Rossi had admitted to the writings but maintained they were meant to be a joke, charging documents say. If Rossi is found guilty of violating any other rules or regulations within the next five years, he will be terminated from the department, Reilly said.
26 April 2005, Atlantic City, New Jersey: Four more casino surveillance operators accused of ogling customers by John Curran, Associated Press.
Four more surveillance camera operators at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino used the equipment to ogle women, according to a complaint filed Tuesday. In December, the same casino was fined $80,000 for similar incidents involving two other camera operators who trained their eye-in-the-sky cameras on low-cut blouses and revealing clothing instead of craps games and slot parlors.
The hidden cameras, required by law in New Jersey casinos, keep tabs on all aspects of casino floor operations as a way to deter and prosecute theft, embezzlement, cheating and other crimes. Typically, they're tucked into ceilings and camouflaged by dark glass, allowing camera operators to surreptitiously zoom in close on activities below.
According to the new complaint, filed by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, Caesars employees James Doherty, Donald Smith, JohnPaul Arambulo and Robert Swan aimed their cameras on "selected parts of the anatomy" of female gamblers and employees while working graveyard shifts over a three-day period in October. Doherty, a shift supervisor, allegedly used two cameras to view women's anatomies, in violation of state casino law. What the cameras saw was recorded on 64 minutes of videotape, giving Division of Gaming investigators the evidence they needed to file complaints with the state Casino Control Commission. Smith, a surveillance operator working under Doherty, allegedly captured 95 minutes' worth of unauthorized footage, while Arambulo and Swan's cameras recorded 16 minutes and 11 minutes' worth, respectively, according to the complaint filed by Deputy Attorney General R. Lane Stebbins. Chuck Davis, a spokesman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, would not elaborate on the allegations in the 13-page complaint.
In a 2001 case, two women told the state Division of Civil Rights that they were fired by Caesars after complaining about voyeuristic camera work by surveillance department co-workers, who they said looked for low-cut necklines or revealing clothing on women playing at table games or riding escalators. Caesars paid $95,000 to settle that complaint, which was filed with the state Division of Civil rights.
"Obviously, we take this kind of issue very seriously," said Robert Stewart, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which owns the casino. "We have not yet had the benefit of seeing the complaint. We will be conducting a through investigation of this alleged incident and will be dealing with the matter appropriately."
The Casino Control Commission will consider the complaint and give the named parties a chance to respond and request a hearing. Davis would not say how big a penalty the Division of Gaming will push for. Given the prior incident, which led to an $80,000 fine for the casino, a $500 fine for one of the operators and a license suspension for the other, it is likely to be substantial.
"It's really premature to discuss any of that," said Daniel Heneghan, spokesman for the Casino Control Commission. No hearing has been set yet, he said.
18 May 2005, New York City: So- Called "Skirt Cam" Found Under Subway Grate On Upper East Side.
Police found a so-called "skirt cam" under a subway grate at 88th Street and Lexington Avenue Tuesday afternoon after a woman called police saying she had noticed suspicious wires protruding from the grate as she passed by. Police closed off the street, fearing the device was a bomb, but soon realized it was a four-inch multi-media camera recording and pointing upward. The camera had an external hard-drive, making it possible for recordings to be broadcast on television and downloaded onto the internet. Police do not consider the camera to be a threat to public safety, but rather a threat to privacy.
Some passersby in the neighborhood who spoke to NY1 said they would think twice before ever walking over a grate again.
"It's pretty awful. It really is," said one woman. "I think that I walk over that every single day, but she actually wears skirts more than I do. I happen to have one on today. I'm so glad that I was wearing pants [the rest of the time.]"
"It's really weird that people would actually do this," said a young girl. "I think it's disgusting."
"I generally don't walk on grates," said another woman, who said she definitely won't be walking over grates from now on.
Police sources say investigators are looking into the possibility the camera was installed by MTA workers. The California company that manufactures the camera says it will work with police to trace the camera back to its owner using the serial number.
A few years ago, Governor George Pataki signed a law making "video voyeurism" a felony offence in New York State, meaning the person responsible for installing the camera could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.
2 August 2005, Newark, New York: Newark cop resigns after illegal surveillance charge, by Patrick Flanigan, Democrat and Chronicle.
An 11-year veteran of a Wayne County police department resigned Monday, two days after he was arrested on suspicion of using a spy camera to photograph girls changing clothes in a Greece shopping mall. Robert Steven Ross, 38, of Newark, Wayne County, was charged Saturday with felony second-degree unlawful surveillance. Ross was charged after a teenage girl identified him as the man who placed a camera, which was inside a shoe, beneath the door of a dressing room at The Mall at Greece Ridge Center where she and a friend were trying on clothes. Ross is free on $1,000 bail. He was immediately put on unpaid leave at the Newark Police Department, where he worked as a narcotics investigator, and he submitted his resignation Monday, said Chief Richard Bogan.
Bogan said Ross' former colleagues were in a state of disbelief. In his years on the force, Ross never displayed any behavior that would suggest he could be arrested on such charges, Bogan said. "When I told his partner, he was convinced it was an April Fool's joke," Bogan said. "When the guy who works with him every day can't believe it, that shows you how unbelievable this is to everybody else." But Bogan said the officers are "moving on" and believe Ross' resignation was necessary.
Saturday's incident was not Ross' first turn in an unflattering spotlight. In 1999, a federal jury found that Ross used excessive force while arresting a farmworker, who was awarded $152,000 in damages. The Haitian man's neck was broken during the arrest, and the jury determined that Ross violated the man's civil rights. But Bogan said the department found no wrongdoing on Ross' part and no internal discipline was administered. In fact, Ross was later promoted to narcotics investigator and earned citations of merit for his work, Bogan said.
Newark Mayor Peter Blandino, who said he knew Ross well enough to exchange greetings on a first-name basis, said he was also "surprised, disappointed and saddened" by the latest allegation. "I just feel very, very sad for Steve and his family," said Blandino, who called Ross an excellent police officer. "If this is true, it's just a very bad situation that he's put himself in."
Greece police Lt. Steve Wise said officers who arrested Ross seized a small digital camera, which has been sent to forensic specialists to determine whether any images were obtained under illegal circumstances. He said the girls are about 14 and 15 years old. Wise described the camera as about the height and width of four nickels stacked on top of each other with a lens the size of a pen point. It was placed inside a shoe with a hole in it. Bogan said Ross had access to a camera like that in his role as a narcotics investigator. The Police Department has such cameras, and they are also available to officers through the Wayne County District Attorney's Office and other law enforcement agencies that cooperate with village police. But he also noted that small surveillance cameras are easy to obtain on the open market.
22 December 2005, New York, New York: "Police Video Caught a Couple's Intimate Moment on a Manhattan Rooftop," Jim Dwyer, The New York Times.
A man and woman who shared an intimate moment on a secluded, dark rooftop one August night last year have learned that they were secretly watched, an intrusion made possible by increased police surveillance of protest rallies and other events and also by advanced technology intended to fight terrorists. That night, police officers tracked bicycle riders moving through the streets of the Lower East Side from a custom-built, $9.8 million helicopter equipped with optical equipment able to display a license plate 1,000 feet away. With the night vision of the helicopter's camera, and permission to make videotapes, an officer also recorded nearly four minutes of the couple on the terrace of a Second Avenue penthouse.
"When you watch the tape, it makes you feel kind of ill," said Jeffrey Rosner, 51, one of the two people. "I had no idea they were filming me -- who would ever have an idea like that?"
The tape, broadcast earlier this year by WCBS-TV news, was made on Aug. 27, 2004, just before the Republican National Convention. That night, several thousand bicycle riders arrived for a group ride that did not have a permit. The helicopter followed the riders but turned the camera on the couple. High above Second Avenue, they seemed to be shielded from view by a wall of shrubs and the nearly total darkness. The police camera, however, included special thermal-imaging equipment that yielded distinct, if ghostly, images.
Mr. Rosner, a music business executive who owns the penthouse, said he remembered a police helicopter hovering overhead, which he assumed was only monitoring the throng of bicycle riders below.
"I'm very happy about cameras in public spaces," Mr. Rosner said. "If you're in a public space doing something inappropriate, I'm all for that. But if I'm in my house and you're using multimillion-dollar equipment to film me, not at all."
Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst, observed that the scene was disclosed only because the same tape included images from the mass bicycle ride and had to be turned over for the trial of a rider.
Mr. Rosner has filed a complaint with the Police Department through his lawyer.
Asked about the incident, Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the department, said: "Aviation routinely checks and sometimes videotapes rooftop activity when someone's in a position to throw projectiles at officers below. In this instance, the officer was instructed afterward to terminate taping once it was determined a threat did not exist."
Mr. Rosner said the woman on the roof with him did not want to be identified or discuss the events. He said he was relieved the tape did not include even more personal moments."I am usually in favor of surveillance," Mr. Rosner said. The issue, he said, is "more the sensibility that the police think it's O.K. that they do that -- it's about their own professionalism."
13 January 2006, Merseyside, England: "Peeping tom CCTV workers jailed," BBC News.
Two council CCTV camera operators have been jailed for spying on a naked woman in her own home. Mark Summerton and Kevin Judge, from Sefton Council, Merseyside, trained a street camera into the woman's flat. At Liverpool Crown Court, Summerton, 37, of Kirkdale, Liverpool, admitted voyeurism and attempted voyeurism. He was sentenced to four months in prison. Judge, 42, from Waterloo, admitted misconduct in public office and was jailed for two months. He was cleared of voyeurism last month. Summerton was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register.
Team leader Vincent Broderick, 52, of Bootle, Merseyside, admitted misconduct in public office on the grounds that he did not see the woman when she was naked, but knew the cameras were being misused and failed to report it. He was sentenced to 200 hours' community service.
The images from the camera, including the woman without her clothes on, were shown on a large plasma screen in the council's CCTV control room in November 2004, Liverpool Crown Court heard. Over several hours, she was filmed cuddling her boyfriend before undressing, using the toilet, having a bath and watching television dressed only in a towel.
Judge Gerald Clifton told the three men: "To dismiss what was happening as laddish behaviour, something that the 21st Century apparently condones, is absurd. You only have to read the impact statements of the lady to realise the harrowing effect that this had on her. Her life has almost been ruined, her self-confidence entirely destroyed by the thought that prying male eyes have entered her flat."
During his voyeurism trial, Judge claimed he had only seen the woman naked for a brief moment and had told Summerton, who was controlling the camera, that he was "out of order". The jury was satisfied but Judge Clifton said he did not believe this account. He said: "I am amply satisfied that your involvement was larger than you are prepared to admit, that you were at some stage controlling the camera, and that you were watching and enjoying the events going on."
A Sefton Council spokesman said safeguards already in place meant the culprits were "caught and dismissed by us promptly. We will not tolerate an abuse of position from any of our staff or accept such a failure to meet the high standards of behaviour and professionalism we expect."
10 April 2006, London, England: Heads spy on teachers by Mark Ballard and published in The Register.
Teachers are preparing to protest against surveillance cameras and microphones that are being installed in classrooms across the UK. Surveillance firm Classwatch has installed more than 50 CCTV systems with microphones across the UK, said the Times Educational Supplement on Friday. Draconian headteachers, who have had teachers watched through two-way mirrors as well, grade teachers according to their performance under observation. Occasional observation is necessary to ensure lessons meet quality targets set centrally by the Department for Education and Skills.
But the TES reported on Friday that teachers were being "observed to death", that surveillance was being used as a punishment, that schools were installing CCTV cameras with microphones into classrooms, and that teachers were wilting under the all-seeing Great Eye of Sauron. Class observation was supposed to help teachers improve standards, but it appears to have morphed into surveillance.
Britain's biggest teachers' union, The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, has proposed a conference motion to use "all means necessary" to stop what it called "yet another example of management bullying". The union also disliked the short notice some teachers have been given about the installation of surveillance devices.
12 April 2006, Pittsburgh, Penssylvania: School bus company won't be prosecuted by David Conti, published by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
A school bus company will not be prosecuted for audio-taping students from two local school districts through surveillance cameras on its buses, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said today. State police investigators earlier this year discovered during bus inspections that Laidlaw Transit was capturing audio on its video cameras, which are used to monitor safety. The buses were used by the West Mifflin and McKeesport school districts. State police asked Zappala to determine whether the tapes violate the state's wiretap laws. Zappala said he found no intent to break the law. He also determined that audio-taping on a school bus does not infringe on students' "reasonable expectation of privacy." But in a letter to area school administrators, Zappala outlined rules that school districts must follow to stay within the law. They include adopting a school district policy, notifying parents and posting signs on buses. State Rep. Don Walko, D-North Side, said he will propose legislation that will clarify the wiretap law as it pertains to video- and audio-taping on school buses.
14 May 2006, London, England: Cameras set racial poser on car crime by Dipesh Gadher, The Sunday Times.
Britain's most senior policeman Sir Ian Blair is facing a race relations dilemma after the release of figures that reveal almost half the number of people arrested in relation to car crime in London are black. Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has signed off a report by his force's traffic unit which shows that black people account for 46% of all arrests generated by new automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras. The technology allows car registration plates to be scanned and automatically run through databases to determine whether a vehicle is stolen, uninsured or has not had its road tax paid. Each numberplate is also checked with the police national computer, where vehicles suspected of links to crimes such as robberies are flagged up. The Met has deployed six mobile ANPR camera units in the capital, primarily in areas with high levels of street crime. When a suspect vehicle is identified, police officers are sent to intercept the driver.
Although ANPR technology is impartial, the disproportionate number of blacks being arrested has prompted the Met to investigate. The arrests have been broken down by ethnicity in a report sent last month to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), to which the force is accountable. It reveals that between April 2005 and January this year the units generated 2,023 arrests. Of these 923 were black suspects, while 738 (36%) came from white backgrounds. Asians accounted for just over 9% of arrests. The report tacitly appears to address concerns among ethnic minority communities who believe they are unfairly targeted by the police through stop and search powers. Black people are up to six times more likely to be stopped than whites. The report says: "It is worth stating that out of all our activities, this is the one area where the officer has minimal discretion as they respond to an electronic matching process."
Last week the Met attempted to explain the high number of arrests among blacks by the fact that they make up a higher proportion of the population in areas such as Southwark and Lewisham in south London, where the ANPR units operate. However, statistics from the 2001 census show that the highest black population in any borough is no greater than about 25%. The proportion of black people across the capital as a whole is about 11%.
Peter Herbert, an independent member of the MPA and spokesman for the Society of Black Lawyers, said: "The Met really wants to avoid any allegation of disproportionality so they will seek to explain these figures by whatever nuance they can. The targeting of certain boroughs might be justified in terms of some crime, but it's certainly not justified in terms of all crime."
Captain Gatso, of Motorists Against Detection, the anti-speed-camera group that uncovered the Met figures, said: "All this does is create a new problem for Sir Ian Blair, the politically correct PC, as ANPR cameras and the databases they are linked to are colour blind."
It is more than a decade ago that Lord Condon, the former Met commissioner, caused controversy when he suggested that young black men were likely to be responsible for most muggings.
14 February 2007, London, England: "Perveillance of CCTV Operator," by Andrew Parker, The Sun.
A police CCTV operator has been carpeted -- after security camera footage showed close-ups of the boobs and backside of a woman in the street. Shocked detectives found a 20-minute sequence of saucy footage while checking the film during a probe into an assault. The screen was filled by shots of a scantily clad woman's breasts, bum and legs as she was "followed" by cameras in Worcester.
Civilian Tony Muff, 62, was suspended from his job heading a police station team manning surveillance cameras -- supposedly looking for crime and anti-social behavior. But he escaped with a warning and has returned to work -- to the anger of others at the Castle Street nick.
Some women operators are refusing to work with him. One said: "Muff has come back -- and a lot of people are not very happy about it." Shift pattersn have been changed because Muff is now banned from working alone in the CCTV room at night.
A source said: "It's a joke and has been terrible for morale. It all came to light after the police had a report of a sexual assault and naturally wanted to check the CCTV cameras. The woman obviously had no idea she was being spied on. Everything was hushed up but then Muff was suspended -- and let off with a final warning."
Muff, who lives with his wife Carol, said: "I have nothing to say."
22 March 2007, Atlantic City, New Jersey: "CCC Penalizes two men for voyeurism in A.C.," by Donald Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City.
They were supposed to watch the gaming tables for possible cheaters and card sharks. Instead, two former surveillance officers at Caesars Atlantic City had their security cameras trained elsewhere -- on the breasts and buttocks of women strolling through the casino.
The video spying occurred while John P. Arambulo and Donald D. Smith worked the graveyard shift in 2004. On Wednesday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission took action against them, suspending Arambulo's gaming license for five days and fining Smith $500.
Caesars paid a $185,000 fine in September 2005 after the surveillance abuses were made public by the Casino Control Commission and New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
"The commission took this matter very seriously," spokesman Daniel Heneghan said. "The surveillance system exists for the very specific purpose to ensure the integrity of the gaming operations. Any time it is not being used in that way, the commission is very concerned."
Arambulo, Smith and two surveillance supervisors were accused of zooming their cameras in on women while the men worked the overnight shift during a three-day period in October 2004. All of the men were fired by Caesars.
"We would reiterate our zero-tolerance policy for any inappropriate conduct for our surveillance department and other departments at our other properties," said Christopher Jonic, a spokesman for Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which owns Caesars and three other Atlantic City casinos.
One former Caesars surveillance supervisor, James Doherty, had his gaming license suspended for 20 days, but another, Robert Swan, was exonerated of any wrongdoing following an administrative hearing last year. Swan has filed a lawsuit against Caesars claiming he was wrongfully fired. The administrative hearing for Doherty and Swan included the extraordinary public airing of secret surveillance tapes showing close-up shots of women's cleavage and buttocks.
Arambulo avoided a hearing by agreeing to a suspension of his license. He now works at Showboat Casino Hotel in a security position, but is not part of the surveillance staff, according to Heneghan.
Smith never responded to the charges against him. He was fined because his gaming license had expired and he is no longer employed in the casino industry, Heneghan said.
Hidden in the ceiling of every casino hotel, the "eye in the sky" surveillance cameras are supposed to be used to surreptitiously monitor the gaming floor and other sensitive areas of the building for cheating, theft and other crimes.
Caesars was fined $80,000 in 2004 for another spying episode involving two other surveillance officers. Those officers gawked at women wearing low-cut blouses and other revealing clothing in 2000 and 2001 [...]
24 April 2007, Oslo, Norway: "Oslo's police chief, department fined for violating privacy laws by releasing security tape," The Associated Press.
Oslo's police chief and his department were ordered to pay fines and compensation Tuesday for violating privacy laws by releasing footage from police surveillance cameras to the state broadcaster NRK in 2004.
"The verdict is important in principle, because it raises strong criticism of that type of surveillance in downtown Oslo that everyone is exposed to," Per Danielsen, an attorney representing a client who filed a complaint against police, said on NRK.
The police allowed the television network to broadcast surveillance camera images taken in April 2004 at a downtown Oslo area known as an illegal drug market on the condition that no individual could be recognizable. However, a 47-year-old man and his 5-year-old stepdaughter were both recognized in the documentary on the drug trade, after the man was arrested for buying heroin in view of the camera. The man, whose name was withheld, sued police for violating his privacy, as well as causing problems between himself and his in-laws and friends.
The Oslo district court found that Police Chief Anstein Gjengedal and the Oslo Police Department had violated the man's privacy. It ordered Gjengedal to pay a 10,000 kroner ($1,670) fine as well as 50,000 kroner ($8,300) in compensation to the plaintiff. The department was ordered to pay a 100,000 kroner fine ($16,700), and the same amount in compensation. The chief and the department were also ordered to jointly pay 130,000 kroner ($21,600) in court costs.
Gjengedal and the department declined immediate comment, because the chief was traveling and had not seen the verdict. They have the right to appeal.
1 May 2007, Gig Habor, Washington: "School Surveillance: A teaching moment," Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligence Editorial Board.
Gig Harbor High School students got a taste of life in the 21st century, security state-style. To the credit of students and the school administration, they responded to the experience of surveillance overuse with an intelligent commitment to changes.
The school says its internal video surveillance system won't be used to inform parents about their children's behavior, as happened after a school dean spotted two girls kissing and holding hands. The official shared video of the incident, a minor violation of frequently violated rules against displays of affection, with one girl's parents.
The cameras are there for security and more serious disciplinary matters, not to enforce social strictures. The clear stand against the action by the school and the Peninsula School District sets a good standard for the future.
Even so, it was understandable that dozens of students staged a protest Monday. As The News Tribune in Tacoma reported, students expressed concerns about privacy and what they believe was discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Both are issues students will face repeatedly. While society may be making progress on discrimination against gays and lesbians, the privacy issue is at best a jumble. The proliferation of security cameras hasn't reached a point where every stroll in the park can be reviewed for inappropriate expressions of affection. But the kind of belated vigilance about cameras and their use that Gig Harbor High is now experiencing may be the only protection against a world in which what happens anywhere goes everywhere.
18 May 2007, Somers Point, New Jersey: "Graphic Fatal Crash Video Leaked to the Internet," Associated Press.
Graphic video of a fatal car crash has been circulating on the Internet, and the agency that operates the toll road where the crash occurred has launched an investigation to determine how the surveillance footage was leaked.
"We're not happy about it, that goes without saying," Joseph Orlando, spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said Friday. The crash occurred May 10 at a toll plaza on the Garden State Parkway, which is operated by the Turnpike Authority.
Orlando said the agency has contacted Web sites including Youtube.com and LiveLeak.com to request that the video be removed. The Press of Atlantic City, which had posted a copy downloaded from the Internet on its Web site, said it removed the video voluntarily on Friday after learning of the Turnpike Authority's objections.
The crash video was still posted at the YouTube and LiveLeak Web sites as of late Friday night. Messages left Friday night by The Associated Press for Jaime Schopflin, a spokeswoman for San Bruno, Calif.-based YouTube, and at a media contact number in England for LiveLeak were not immediately returned.
The video depicts a car slamming into the Garden State Parkway's Great Egg Harbor toll plaza, about 10 miles south of Atlantic City, at high speed and bursting into flames. Killed in the crash was Bernard King, 52, a casino dealer from Lower Township. State police said Friday that they are still investigating the cause and are trying to determine if King's history of seizures was a factor.
An Atlantic City television station, WMGM-TV 40, also aired the video on a Thursday night newscast, with a warning that it could upset some viewers. The station's news director, Harvey Cox, said the station did not receive any complaints about the video.
Orlando said the toll plaza surveillance cameras are controlled by the parkway's operations and toll personnel but that officials have "no inkling" at this time who leaked the video.
3 July 2007, Cardiff Bay, United Kingdom: "Assembly CCTV 'turned on homes'," BBC News.
Security guards at Welsh assembly buildings in Cardiff Bay were caught turning CCTV cameras onto nearby homes and hotels, it has emerged. Five employees based in Cardiff Bay received "significant" disciplinary penalties for the misuse of the cameras within the last two years. An assembly spokeswoman said the incidents were "isolated" and were not believed to have breached privacy. Conservative AM Jonathan Morgan said the guards should have been sacked. In a response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act from a local newspaper, the assembly said the security guards had received the disciplinary penalties for "misusing CCTV equipment" by "turning the cameras towards private dwellings".
The penalties included formal warnings plus "amendments to terms and conditions and exclusion from promotion opportunities". A spokeswoman for the assembly said legal and police advice was taken as to whether a criminal investigation was appropriate. On their advice a decision was taken not to prosecute.
"But significant disciplinary measures were taken against the staff involved, which included formal warnings and loss of pay," she said.
The Freedom of Information response read: "During the period stated in the request, five staff received disciplinary penalties for misusing CCTV equipment. Penalties were applied for the occasional misuse or suspected misuse of equipment by turning the cameras towards private dwellings therefore failing to focus on the security of the estate. Formal warnings were issued in all cases together with sanctions including amendments to terms and conditions and exclusion from promotion opportunities."
Cardiff North AM Mr Morgan said he was going to raise the matter with the assembly's presiding officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas.
"I want to know why these security guards were not sacked." He added. "How much worse can it get for them to lose their job? The position they are in is a serious one that demands professionalism and requires the confidence of assembly members and all that work there. Quite apart from the totally inappropriate nature of this behaviour, and in light of recent security threats around the country, I am very concerned that security staff were not focusing on the security of the assembly estate as they are employed to do," he said.
The assembly security guards work on a rota covering the assembly offices, Senedd and Pierhead buildings. There are several cameras around these buildings. The assembly spokeswoman said the incidents of CCTV camera misuse were not believed to breach the privacy of any member of the public, or compromise the security of the assembly.
"The disciplinary matters related to misuse of assembly equipment," she said. "The incidents of CCTV cameras being pointed towards private dwellings were isolated occurrences and there is no evidence to suggest that offences were widespread in terms of frequency or practice," she added. "There has been no evidence of any similar incidents since. Regular checks of the use of cameras are undertaken by management and action was taken quickly when these matters were discovered."
7 July 2007, Beijing, China: "Authorities to probe misuse of CCTV cameras," by Wu Yong, China Daily.
Beijing's public sercuity bureau said recently it would undertake a thorough check of the use of closed-circuit TV cameras in the city to ensure people's rights and privacy are being properly protected. The moves comes after a number of complaints from members of the public who say their privacy is being invaded by the cameras. Chu Jing, the bureau's head, said surveillance cameras are permitted only in designated areas and that no one has the right to use or distribute the information or images captured by them [...] The city now has about 265,000 such figures, according to figures from the public security bureau.
[...] Wang Yu, who works in a bank in Beijing, said: "I feel like Will Smith in Enemy of the State. All day, I live in the gaze of surveillance cameras, from my desk to the elevator, and even more at the shopping mall [...]
3 August 2007, Montreal, Canada: "Man Outraged Over Camera in Mall Bathroom," United Press International.
A surveillance camera placed inside a Montreal mall's bathroom has one shopper furious with the invasion of privacy, despite the fact it wasn't turned on. In a letter written to the owners of the Les Cours Mont Royal mall, the unidentified man said that while he was informed the camera was inactive it still represented a potential invasion of privacy for shoppers, The Montreal Gazette reproted Friday.
"If the video surveillance is not functional, what assurances do we have that it will not be in the future?" the letter to Soltron Realty Inc. said. "If it is functional," the man added in the letter, "who is watching, is the information secure and will we find our pictures on the Internet?"
A representative for the company said that while the practice of placing operating surveillance cameras inside bathrooms is illegal, the company stood by its decision [...]
29 August 2007, Freehold Township, New Jersey: "Surveillance camera spurs lawsuit from Freehold Township rabbi Town: Home being used as place of worship, violating zoning rules," by Nick Petruncio, The Asbury Park Press.
Municipal officials' training of a surveillance camera on an Orthodox rabbi's home has prompted a federal lawsuit. Attorney Gerald Marks of Red Bank, who represents Rabbi Avraham Bernstein of Stillwells Corner Road, filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Trenton. The suit alleges the camera -- which was aimed through a municipal building window toward the front of Bernstein's property across the street -- was set in retaliation to an ongoing legal battle and interferes further with the rabbi's right to the free exercise of religion in his home.
"We affectionately refer to it as the "rabbi cam,'" said Marks, who is also representing the rabbi in a lawsuit previously filed in state Superior Court in Freehold.
Township Attorney Duane Davison acknowledged the camera was set up and said it was done so the township could get an accurate count of the number of people going into the home during the Jewish sabbath, which is a concern of the township, along with the frequency of the gatherings there. The township, before the state suit was filed, accused the rabbi of operating a house of worship out of his home in violation of municipal zoning ordinances and filed charges in Municipal Court. Bernstein sued the township, alleging the municipality was violating his First Amendment rights, his state constitutional rights and a federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.
Davison said the township has "bent over backwards" to work with the rabbi and the neighbors who have complained about the gatherings of people in the rabbi's backyard.
He said the issue comes down to the intensity of the use, specifically the number of people going to the rabbi's home and frequency of the activity, and nothing more. The rabbi, according to Davison, said 10 to 20 people were coming to his home during the sabbath. Neighbors, he said, put the number between 50 and 70 and sometimes up to 100. The surveillance camera showed the truth was somewhere between the two extremes, at 35 to 50 people, he said.
"We needed to determine what was really going on here," Davison said.
While Marks said the surveillance was prejudicial, Davison said the camera was set up during a finite period of time -- from the end of May until late July or the beginning of August -- and was done so at a distance from which no faces were recognizable and from a vantage point ordinarily viewable from the street. Marks contends his client has a right to practice religion in his own home and is protected by the federal and state constitutions and a federal land-use act.
21 September 2007, Nashville, Tennessee: "Deputy pleads guilty in police camp surveillance. Said he was paid $5,000 on a Teamsters check," by Sheila Burke, The Dickson Herald.
Shelby County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty today to making false statements about his role in installing surveillance cameras at the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police summer camp. Joe T. Everson, of Memphis, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal authorites, U.S. Attorney Paul O'Brien announced. Everson has become embroiled in a controversy between the warring unions that represent members of the Metro Police Department -- the FOP and Teamsters. In his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr., Everson admitted that someone from the local branch of the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters contacted him about the use of surveillance at the the FOP camp. Everson received a $5,000 check written on the Teamsters check for purchasing the electronic equipment and installing it. Everson, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, broke into the camp with two other people and installed the equipment to record activities at the camp.
19 November 2007, Athens, Greece: "Head of Greek privacy watchdog resigns over police use of cameras to monitor protests," Associated Press.
The head of Greece's privacy watchdog resigned Monday over the government's use of traffic cameras to monitor demonstrations, raising the stakes in a heated dispute over civil liberties. Dimitris Gourgourakis said police "directly breached" his powerful Data Protection Authority's regulations by using closed-circuit cameras for surveillance at a central Athens protest Saturday, despite a ban.
"I believe this constitutes a blow to the authority's independence," said Gourgourakis, a former senior judge. The authority's deputy head and another two members also stepped down in protest. Opposition parties accused the conservative government of trying to weaken the authority. The resignations follow a long-running dispute between the government and the authority over police use of surveillance cameras installed in 2004 for the Athens Olympic Games, which has sparked a broad debate on privacy rights in Greece.
About 350 cameras positioned on busy thoroughfares and public squares as part of a 1 billion Euros (US$1.47 billion) Olympic security umbrella are used for traffic monitoring, and the DPA has turned down police requests for their broader use. A final decision is pending from the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court.
Last month, a senior prosecutor ruled that police could position cameras at public gatherings and then use any incriminating videotape to identify and prosecute those caught on film committing crimes. But Gourgourakis said the DPA was the only authority competent to rule on the matter, under its constitutional mandate.
Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis accepted the resignations. "Even independent authorities are not above the Constitution," he said. The main opposition Socialists backed the DPA. "[The government] has achieved its aim to degrade ... an independent authority," party spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis said. "This is a severe blow to our justice system and the protection of human rights."
The government, re-elected in September, has long supported the police in their bid for full access to the camera system, saying it would help them do their jobs more effectively -- particularly in monitoring demonstrations, which often degenerate into violence. Privacy and human rights groups say such camera use encourages snooping and curtails the civil liberties of Greece's 11 million people. The cameras have been a frequent target for arson attack by anarchist groups. Under DPA regulations, surveillance cameras can only be used for the protection of people or goods, or to monitor traffic.
15 January 2008, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei: "Customers Peeved About Cameras In Restaurant's Toilet," by Rosli Abidin Yahya.
Concerned members of the public called for the removal of surveillance cameras or CCTVs inside the men's toilet of a restaurant near the capital, saying that the cameras are an invasion of their privacy and rights. They said the restaurant may have installed the cameras to deter crime but they felt that putting the cameras inside the men's toilet cubicles was tasteless, indecent and lacked moral decency.
"Luckily, they did not install the cameras inside the women's toilet. However, the men are also entitled to their rights and this must be respected," they said. They added that the restaurant probably has the largest number of CCTVs with many fitted in its interior and outside the main door of the toilets. Other members of the public were shocked that a restaurant could have such disregard for the rights of its customers that it needed to put them under surveillance while sitting, eating and even when answering nature's call.
"This isn't simply about using technology to their advantage, and clearly nobody stopped to conduct a rational analysis of the trade-offs before making this decision in the name of security. If the restaurant attracts many criminals, there are tried and tested methods of solving that, which don't trample on the rights of diners," they said. Other diners said they realised that there were just too many surveillance cameras, including inside the toilet cubicles, and they have stopped dining at the restaurant.
"It is as simple as that. If you feel that your privacy has been invaded, then stop going to the restaurant. After all, the restaurant needs diners but diners do not need to subject themselves to surveillance while answering the call of nature," they said.
15 January 2008, New Jersey, USA: "Man admits hiding camera in bathroom."
A suspended Long Beach Township public works employee will be barred from public employment after admitting Monday that he hid a videocamera in a women's bathroom near a township beach during the summer of 2006 to secretly videotape women undressing. Scott Hampton, 27, of Hamilton pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels to invasion of privacy. Being questioned by his attorney, W. Curtis Dowell, Hampton admitted that he set up the camera in the bathroom at the Holgate parking lot. He taped from May 1 to Sept. 3, 2006, according to an indictment. Under a plea bargain, Hampton will receive a probationary term when he is sentenced in March and will be required to undergo psychiatric counseling as a condition of probation, said Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor William Porter. He could have faced up to five years in prison. Suspended without pay since his arrest on Sept. 3, 2006, Hampton will forfeit his job and will be barred from public employment in the future, Porter said. A charge of official misconduct, alleging that Hampton used his official position as a public works laborer to install the camera, will be dismissed under the plea bargain, along with another charge of invasion of privacy, which alleged that Hampton had observed images of the videotaped women without their consent. Also being dismissed is a charge of possessing child pornography, which was lodged because some of the recorded images were of children.
The camera was discovered during a police investigation sparked by a delicatessen owner's report that he was receiving images from what appeared to be a women's restroom on his newly installed surveillance cameras. The wireless camera system had a broadcast range of about 500 feet, police said, and images were transmitted to the home on West Avenue where Hampton was living at the time. Police said they inspected all other public bathrooms that Hampton had access to as a publics works laborer, but found no other cameras.
15 February 2008, Carmel, Indiana "School: Vids Of Students On Arrested Tech's Computer: Probe Also Yields Separate Child Erotica Photos, Leads To Exploitation Arrest," Channel 6, The Indy Channel.
The discovery that a Carmel High School technician had forwarded surveillance images of two students from a work computer to a home computer led investigators to find unrelated child erotica photos on his home machine, a school official said. James Lefton, 36, of Carmel, was arrested Thursday on six counts of child exploitation related to the child erotica photos, police said. School officials and police began investigating Lefton after a woman anonymously told the school that he had contacted her 14-year-old daughter on Facebook.com. The woman and her daughter don't live in Carmel, but school officials said they think she was able to determine Lefton's identity through his Facebook page, 6News' Julie Pursley reported.
Police said they found on one of Lefton's work computers evidence that he had transferred images of two Carmel students taken from surveillance cameras in the school's hallways. Investigators then searched his home computer and discovered he had those images on that machine, said Libbie Conner, assistant superintendent of Carmel Clay schools. Investigators also found child erotica photos -- not related to any Carmel Clay students -- on Lefton's home computer, police said. The school system said it fired Lefton, a computer technician at CHS, this week because surveillance video transfers are a violation of the system's technology policy. It also told him to stay away from the school.
"It was an astonishment. We never had any concerns prior to this. Everyone was shocked," Conner said. "We're just relieved activity that led to the charges did not involve our students. Their safety is our No. 1 priority."
Lefton is scheduled to have an initial hearing in Hamilton County on Feb. 22. He bonded out of jail on Thursday night.
"Parents, of course, they're going to be concerned. But, to put their mind at ease, this investigation was very thorough," Carmel police Lt. Jeff Horner said. "There is nothing at this point and time to show any Carmel Clay students was a victim here that led to these charges."
School officials said their information services department is working to find a way the incident might have been detected sooner and ways that a similar incident might be prevented in the future.
8 March 2008, New Jersey: "Videos of bathroom result in probation: Man had set up wireless camera," by Kathleen Hopkins, Ashbury Park Press.
A onetime Long Beach Township public works employee who secretly videotaped women undressing in a public bathroom near the township's beach was sentenced Friday to 50 hours of community service, given five years' probation, ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and permanently barred from public employment. State Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels imposed the sentence on Scott A. Hampton, 28, of Hamilton, Mercer County. Hampton pleaded guilty Jan. 14 to invasion of privacy, a crime that carries a potential prison term of up to five years.
In pleading guilty, Hampton admitted that he set up the camera in the public bathroom at the Holgate parking lot near the beach in Long Beach Township and taped women undressing from May 1 to Sept. 3, 2006. He had access to the bathroom because he worked as a laborer for the Public Works Department. The existence of the camera was discovered after an unwitting delicatessen owner reported to police that he was receiving images from what appeared to be a women's restroom on his newly installed surveillance cameras.
The hidden camera was wireless and had a broadcast range of about 500 feet, which included the home on West Avenue in the township where Hampton was living at the time. At the sentencing hearing, Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Bridget Coughlin said more than 15 videotapes containing images of exposed women were found in Hampton's possession.
"This was a case that was appalling," Coughlin said. "This defendant needs to be deterred."
Hampton's plea bargain called for a term of probation, and Coughlin asked Daniels to impose the maximum probationary term allowed by law, which is five years. Coughlin said that while Hampton admitted in court that he hid the camera in the bathroom to watch women undressing, he told probation officers in a presentence interview that he had set up the camera to catch vandals. Indeed, the judge noted the camera was not placed in the bathroom for security purposes.
"It was in a depraved manner in order to satisfy the defendant's sexual fantasies," Daniels said. "I truly do apologize for my actions," Hampton told the judge before the sentence was imposed. "This was a lapse of judgment, and I want to make amends for what I've done," he said.
Hampton's attorney, W. Curtis Dowell, said the offense was out of character for his client, whose only prior criminal record was for minor, disorderly persons offenses.
"Frankly, I don't know how this came about," Dowell said. "He's 28 years old and doesn't have anything like this in his history."
31 March 2008, Stuttgart, Germany: "German discount chain accused of spying on staff apologizes to workers," by the Associated Press.
A German discount grocery chain that has been accused of systematically spying on its staff apologized to employees in newspaper ads Monday, but insisted the allegations were overblown.
"We regret it profoundly and apologize explicitly if co-workers feel discredited and personally hurt by the described procedures," the Lidl supermarket chain said in half-page ads published in several daily newspapers.
Last week, German news magazine Stern reported that Lidl had hired detectives who installed surveillance cameras to monitor the staff's work performance, and even to find out how often they used the restrooms and whether they had affairs with co-workers. The report prompted some politicians and data protection agencies to demand stricter labor protection laws for supermarket personnel in Germany.
Despite the apology, the chain rejected Stern's accusations and said "the impression that Lidl had systematically 'spied' on its workers, in no way conforms with the company's fair dealings" with them. Lidl also justified the use of detectives, saying they were hired to obtain information that would allow the company to cut down on shoplifting. It said the resulting loss of stock amounts to 80 million (126.5 million) annually. Lidl conceded that "in individual cases, extra and in some cases personal information on employees was recorded by the detective agencies." But, it added: "we did not want that." Lidl said that "it has learned from the incidents" and would in the future concentrate on working with its employees to combat theft. Senior Lidl manager Juergen Kisseberth said later Monday that detectives were deployed in 219 of Lidl's 2,900 branches across Germany. Kisseberth said employees affected would be given the chance to view the records.
"The employees will be presented those passages that concern them," Kisseberth said. "Only this way will employees in the end have clarity on what information was recorded."
Lidl is one of the biggest discount grocery chains in Germany and says it has 48,000 employees. Unions have criticized Lidl over the spying allegations, saying the alleged surveillance put all employees under general suspicion of shoplifting.
23 April 2008, Germany: "Lidl To Compensate Workers For Spying," NAM News.
The Lidl chain has said it will make a special payment of up to E300 to every employee, as compensation for the scandal in which it was found to have spied on staff. All full-time employees will receive a payment of E300, while part-time staff will receive a proportionate amount. The company said it wants the company wants to show its gratitude to staff for remaining loyal to the group, despite their anger and harsh criticism from customers.
Following the revelations that detectives had been recording very personal conversations and information about employees, Lidl removed all surveillance cameras. It now said that it will now reintroduce them in order to protect staff and protect against thieves, pending approval from employees, who will be able to look at the films.
10 May 2008, Shenzhen, China: "Eye in the Sky," Southern Metropolis Daily.
For a while, there was a street surveillance camera near the pedestrian bridge at Yayuan, Luohu, Shenzhen which would turn its focus from the street to the neighboring buildings after midnight. Since April 26, the Southern Metropolis Daily reporter had accessed the real-time broadcast of the government's open information network and tracked what this particular camera was doing eight days in a row. On each day after midnight, the camera would systematically scan through the neighboring buildings back and forth until early in the morning.
For example, on April 29, the camera began scanning two luxury apartment buildings from left to right and from top to bottom. When the camera reached a window with lights on, it would stop and magnify the view. When the camera reached a window with drawn curtains, it would move on immediately. On early morning in May 3, the reporter observed that the camear stopped and focused on the bedroom with open curtains. A woman appeared, took off her clothes and went into the bathroom. The camera followed this woman for a total of 59 minutes 41 seconds.
According to information, most of the residents are white-collar workers and many are totally unaware that there was a surveillance camera on the roof of the building on the other side, much less that it was prying into their private lives. The case has been referred to the Shenzhen public security bureau, which gave assurances that the persons responsible will be dealt with severely. (Follow-up: It turned out that the person monitoring the surveillance camera was a temporary worker).
14 May 2008, Shenzhen, China: "Peeping toms face fines, detention," by Zheng Caixiong, China Daily.
Two casual workers hired by Shenzhen traffic police have been fired for allegedly peeping into apartments in a residential area through a video camera designed for monitoring traffic. Shenzhen police said yesterday on its website the workers, surnamed Liang and Xie, were hired to monitor traffic. However, when the workers found that one camera could be moved to view a residential area beside a bridge -- the target of the traffic monitoring -- they turned the camera onto people's homes. Because the contents of some of the traffic cameras are also uploaded onto a website for people to know about traffic conditions, the video of the camera involved was also made public. Since only a limited number of people have access to the contents of a video, the suspects were easily identified, police said.
The Shenzhen bureau of public security said yesterday at a press conference that the two will face punishments of fines or even detention. The city launched an investigation on May 4 after a local newspaper informed the bureau that a traffic surveillance camera had been trained on bedrooms and bathrooms in the residential area in Luohu district, where more than 700 families live. The police said they will now use cameras that operate only in a fixed position. The change will be completed by August.
No similar incident had been reported since 200,000 digital cameras were installed in the city in 2006, they said. Shenzhen will also speed up the introduction of new legislation on the use of surveillance cameras, authorities said.
In Guangzhou, an office in charge of video content management said only the police have control of the use of such cameras in the city. There are more than 210,000 surveillance cameras in Guangzhou.
14 May 2008, England: "Schools are gathering CCTV evidence illegally as every one breaks strict guidelines," The Daily Mail.
Schools across the UK are using CCTV cameras illegally and breaking laws by using footage as evidence in court cases, a new study has found. Every one of 60 schools picked at random was found to be ignoring strict guidelines over the use of CCTV -- with one school even aiming cameras into a neighbour's back garden. The study, by national advisory body CameraWatch, found that none of the schools met strict standards imposed by the law and as a result evidence gathered by schools in court cases may not even be legal.
The guidelines, which schools are supposed to follow, include warning people what cameras are used for and making sure that cameras are pointing in the right direction. Schools must also store recording equipment and personal data correctly. Paul Mackie, CameraWatch's compliance director, warned that images recorded by the schools camera systems tested were grainy, poorly exposed and in most cases illegal because procedures were not adequately followed. He said that CameraWatch had provided their feedback to the schools -- following checks over the last two years -- but their advice was ignored.
Mr Mackie said: "If evidence is not correctly gathered, or if cameras fail to meet minimum standards then it can be challenged in court. And not one single school in our checks met those minimum standards. It is potentially a very big headache for police and the Crown Prosecution Service because more and more lawyers are waking up to this. Some of the examples we found were quite shocking -- in one school cameras were actually pointed into a neighbour's back garden."
Mr Mackie added that the schools were at risk of losing vital CCTV evidence as recording equipment was not being locked away properly and could be easily stolen. He said: "Vandals could trash any one of these schools and then just unplug the recording showing what they have done. We found that recording devices were being routinely left at reception desks -- not even locked in cabinets. It's far too easy for criminals."
The survey found that even state-of-the-art privately funded academy schools were flouting the strict CCTV code of practice. He said: "It was across the board. If these schools don't follow the correct procedures they cannot prove that evidence has not been tampered with. At the moment much of CCTV evidence used in court is unchallenged. But lawyers are getting smarter and are starting to realise that even the smallest time detail or if a camera is pointed in a direction it shouldn't be, this can be challenged."
Last year CameraWatch hit the headlines when their research revealed 90 per cent of CCTV installations failed to comply with guidelines - despite 63 million pounds being ploughed into surveillance cameras by the Government.
19 August 2008, England: "Teachers give toilet CCTV top marks, Just so long as it isn't watching them," by John Ozimek, The Register.
As schools increasingly opt to install cameras in their pupils' toilets, a survey this week shows the message from some teachers is "do as we say, not as we do." This week, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) released the results of a preliminary survey of CCTV usage in schools. 85 per cent of teachers say that they have CCTV in their schools, whilst nearly a quarter worry about hidden cameras within their building. In most cases, the surveillance cameras are covering the school grounds and entrances to the school, but nearly ten per cent say CCTV is operating in the toilets.
According to the survey, 98 per cent of teachers say that CCTV is primarily used for security and monitoring vandalism around the building. However, over half of the teachers reported that the surveillance is also present inside the school to monitor the behaviour of the pupils within school hours. The ATL survey fared rather better than a parallel attempt by ARCH (Action on Rights for Children). They have been attempting, through the Freedom of Information Act, to obtain data on how and where cameras are used in schools. To date, over 85% of schools have failed to respond.
Spokesman for ARCH, Terri Dowty, feels this is no accident. "Attempts to elicit answers from the Department for Children and the Ministry of Justice have resulted in buck-passing. So the failure of schools to respond is not surprising."
According to head teachers, there simply is no issue. A quick Google throws up plenty of good news stories, in which the introduction of cameras appears to lead to less vandalism and graffiti, and a corresponding fall in bullying. The latter is claimed especially for the cameras in washrooms.
The good news also includes isolated sparks of discontent. The Information Commissioner has produced guidance on CCTV, which applies to schools, and which very clearly requires organisations to identify the rationale for introducing any CCTV. Cameras in toilet areas should always be pointed at the wash basins, and covert filming not covered by the RIPA statute should be temporary and for a specific purpose only.
Over the last couple of years, however, national advisory body, Camera Watch, found that 90 per cent of CCTV installations failed to comply with the ICO guidelines -- and that many school cameras may be operating illegally. Press stories reflect a mixed views on the introduction of cameras, with the greatest backlash where cameras are introduced without prior consultation, or were felt to be intrusive. In the United States, a number of lawsuits have been brought for breach of privacy.
As Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, observes: "no one really knows enough about the use of CCTV in schools -- it's a very new issue. "Certainly we would want staff to be involved in decisions about the use of CCTV in schools, and strict safeguards for its use."
It is at this point, however, that a touch of hypocrisy creeps in. A further observation in the ATL report was the alleged widespread view amongst teachers that "regular use of cameras in class would be intimidating." In newspeak: "It is OK to 'monitor' pupils -- but not to 'spy on' the grown ups."Perhaps teachers should sharpen up their analysis, since this is one area where they should be very careful what they wish for. At least one group of MPs has suggested that CCTV ought to be used more widely in classrooms to 'protect' teachers from allegations of abuse.
Part of the problem is that this is yet another area where social change is being driven by technological innovation. There almost certainly are practical cost-benefits to be had from the introduction of CCTV. The trouble is that whilst the benefits are mostly tangible, the downside is more nebulous. "CCTV in schools is a huge invasion of privacy," says Terri Dowty. "Worse, it is habituating children to a very high degree of surveillance, whilst at the same time destroying the potential for them to learn about relating to adults. "We have had reports of how, in some schools, CCTV monitors sit in staff rooms. Teachers increasingly tend to intervene in critical situations in a policing or disciplinary role. The human to human contact is lost."
The jury is out. Here at El Reg, we can see the attraction of CCTV in schools. We suspect that it will continue to be introduced in a haphazard and uncontrolled way until one - or both - of two further developments. First, teachers get seriously ambivalent about the whole project: if CCTV starts to be turned on them, expect them to change their tune very quickly. Second, it can only be a matter of time before "security."recordings fall into the hands of ne'er-do-wells. It happened in the US. It will happen here. At which point, it is possible that, "for the sake of the children." We will then see the very rapid removal of CCTV from schools.
20 January 2009, Darien, Wisconsin: "No word on Darien chief's suspension," by Ann Marie Ames, The Gazette Xtra.
Residents and officials are no closer to knowing what will happen to Police Chief Steve DeVoy, who has been suspended with pay since Dec. 1. The village continues to investigate the legality of two surveillance cameras found in the police department by village employees. The subject got only a small mention during Monday night's meeting, although officials previously said they expected to get answers Monday night.
David Danz, one of two attorneys working on the investigation, told board members and the audience that the matter remains under investigation. Danz said he is as eager as anyone to get answers and has been calling the village daily to talk about the case. While the village investigates the legality of the cameras, county officials are investigating what the cameras recorded. No charges have been filed at this time.
The Walworth County Sheriff's Office installed the cameras at DeVoy's request, District Attorney Phil Koss has said. It's not clear why the cameras were installed, but Koss said DeVoy might have been concerned that someone was illegally accessing police records. The sheriff's office closed the case last week and sent it to Koss' office for review, but Koss sent it back asking for clarification.
15 February 2009, Onancock, Virginia: "Camera convicted him but raised battle over privacy," by Tim McGlone, The Virginian-Pilot.
Farmers beware: Big Brother may be watching.
Eastern Shore soybean farmer Steve Van- Kesteren learned that the hard way when he was charged with taking two red-tailed hawks, a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Act. The evidence against him was a video recording showing him dispatching the birds with an ax. Game wardens had put a hidden camera in a tree, pointed at VanKesteren's soybean fields, after receiving a complaint about protected birds getting caught in predator traps. The wardens had to walk or drive off a road, past a hedgerow, and travel about a quarter mile through one field and past a second hedgerow. VanKesteren said it appears they cut a swath through some brush to get to the tree.
VanKesteren took his case to the second-highest court in the nation, arguing his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches was violated. While sympathetic, and even concerned about the video intrusion, two federal judges ruled against him, and a panel at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal.
"I don't like the installation of a video camera on somebody's property," U.S. District Judge Rebecca B. Smith said during VanKesteren's appeal of the magistrate judge ruling finding him guilty.
"I don't think they can manage my farm from up in Richmond or Washington, D.C., where they come from," he said during a stroll through his fields last week. "I think I can do a better job than they can," he said.
VanKesteren, 61, is semiretired but still farms much of his 500 acres around his Poplar Cove Road home in Onancock. He tends leased farmland as well, growing wheat and corn as well as soybeans. He's lived in the same 18th-century house overlooking Onancock Creek his entire life. His father farmed the same lands, growing mainly spinach until he got fed up with Canada geese eating too much of the crop. In his spare time, Van-Kesteren fishes, hunts and plants grasses, shrubs and trees in an ongoing conservation effort. He said he'd never been in trouble with game wardens before. He'd been having a particular problem with foxes eating his crops, so he set up cage traps in several spots next to his fields.
In late 2006, someone -- VanKesteren doesn't know who -- called the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to report seeing a protected bird caught in a trap on VanKesteren's farmland. A game warden, technically called a conservation police officer, went to the site and found a cage trap, about 2 feet high, with two caught pigeons. Pigeons are not protected birds. In January 2007, the officer and special operations agents returned to the farmland, off Acorn Road with no homes in sight, and set up a hidden video camera. The officers had to walk at least 400 yards across one field to get to a hedgerow where VanKesteren had set some traps. The area where the traps were set isn't visible from the road. The camera was on for 21 days. VanKesteren was recorded taking two red-tailed hawks, also known as chickenhawks, from the trap and whacking each in the head with an ax. VanKesteren admits he did it and says he had no choice.
"I didn't want to let them suffer," he said. "When you put a trap out you can catch just about anything." He said when it was legal years ago to kill hawks he wouldn't do it because they benefit farmers by eating small rodents.
At one point in the video, VanKesteren walks right toward the camera, which was tied to a tree. He said he was probably a foot away and never noticed. When confronted with the video by state and federal agents, VanKesteren said he caught the hawks inadvertently. He said it was an honest mistake and that he should have taken the birds to a veterinarian or obtained a permit to kill them, which he had done in previous years. (He said he gave up with permits because the bureaucracy became too complicated.)
"The defendant showed no remorse for the killings and asked the agents several times to drop the matter," federal prosecutor Dee Sterling wrote in a court brief, quoting from the earlier testimony of the agents. An agent testified that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regularly uses surveillance cameras when investigating suspicious activity. "With only five special agents in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it was extremely impractical to conduct live surveillance," Sterling wrote.
VanKesteren fought the case, initially on his own. He argued before a U.S. magistrate judge in Norfolk that the game wardens violated his constitutional rights against unlawful searches by entering his private property and videotaping his activities. He wondered what would have happened if he 'd been caught on tape urinating near his field. Would he be charged with indecent exposure? What if he were having a romantic interlude in his fields?
After losing at the magistrate level and being ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, VanKesteren hired an attorney and appealed to Smith, the district court judge. "As noted by other courts, hidden video surveillance invokes images of the 'Orwellian state' and is regarded by society as more egregious than other kinds of intrusions," James Broccoletti, Smith's attorney, wrote in his appeal. Broccoletti argued the case before Smith in December 2007. "We have not found any reported cases dealing with the installation of a video camera on private property," he told the judge. "In open field cases, law enforcement officers are entitled to, and regularly do, go upon private property to conduct their investigations," Sterling responded. "No warrant is required, period." Judge Smith, though, was clearly concerned.
"Assuming that you are right in that regard, can you still go onto somebody's private property and install a video camera?" Smith asked. "So we are just going to keep it rolling for 24 hours to see if we find something?"
If the camera were on a public street, there wouldn't be any problem, the judge said. "The concern here is not the walking on, so much as the installation of a continuous running video camera," she said. In the end, however, she ruled against VanKesteren, citing case law dating back to the 1920s that allows surveillance of open fields without a warrant.
Broccoletti took the case to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December but lost there too. The court, however, noted its concern as well. "The idea of a video camera constantly recording activities on one's property is undoubtedly unsettling to some," the court wrote in its ruling issued last month. "Individuals might engage in any number of intimate activities on their wooded property or open field -- from romantic trysts under a moonlit sky to relieving oneself," the court continued. "But the protection of the Fourth Amendment is not predicated upon these subjective beliefs."
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries defended its use of cameras, stating that it is a common practice in any law enforcement agency. "I would say law enforcement agencies have used cameras for as long as cameras have been around," said Julia Dixon, media relations coordinator for the agency. "A lot of this investigative work is done in remote rural areas. It's a tool to help us gather information," she said, adding that she could not recall anyone challenging the practice. "In general, usually when we have someone who's been charged, that's a very compelling piece of evidence to have. At that point they're not disputing the video," she said.
VanKesteren is considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that is an expensive venture. In the meantime, he has removed the cage traps but has a number of foot traps set out to catch foxes and other predators. Birds cannot get caught in them.
"I'll tell you, this opened my eyes about how the government works," VanKesteren said. He wondered what Thomas Jefferson and George Washington would think. "What if those people had come to them and said, 'We're going to put you in prison for killing a chickenhawk'? " he asked. "I think they would have started another revolution."
27 February 2009, Darien, Wisconsin: "Darien employees file notices of claim," by Gina Duwe, The Gazette Extra.
Nine village of Darien employees and a retired employee have filed claims for damages against the village and Walworth County, saying hidden cameras found in village offices violated their Fourth Amendment rights. Police Chief Steve DeVoy and the village violated the employees' rights by "arranging for a warrantless, covert video surveillance of village office space," according to the claim filed Feb. 18 with the county clerk. The Fourth Amendment is intended to guard against unreasonable search and seizure. Filing a notice of claim within 120 days of an incident is required by Wisconsin law to be able to file a lawsuit later.
The claims are a result of the Dec. 1 discovery of two video surveillance cameras and an external hard drive at the village office, 20 N. Wisconsin St. Clerk of courts and part-time secretary Peggy Moran "informed the clerk's office that there were wires coming out of an artificial plant basket located on the top of her desk area," according to the claim. "Video surveillance equipment was installed by a part-time officer of the Village of Darien at the directive of Village of Darien Police Chief Steve DeVoy individually or with the assistance and cooperation of Walworth County Sheriff's Department deputies," the claim states.
Filing the notice were: Superintendent of Public Works Gregory Epping, water department and public works employee Michael Michalek, water department employee Edward McLernon, water department and public works employee Michael Veley, administrative assistant Mary Schneider, deputy clerk/treasurer Dean Abel, clerk of courts and part-time police secretary Peggy Moran, village administrator/clerk/treasurer Marc Dennison, police Sgt. Michael Maltese and retired clerk/treasurer Constance Machi.
The notices seek an undetermined amount for attorney fees and costs, witness fees and costs and psychological injury, pain, suffering, humiliation, loss of reputation, violation of rights and other damages. The Darien Village Board will discuss the claim at its meeting Monday, March 16. Village attorney David Danz said he would recommend the board deny the claim. The county board will take up the issue at its Tuesday, March 10, meeting and is expected to refer the claim to the executive committee.
The claims are another chapter in an ongoing situation related to the cameras. DeVoy was suspended shortly after employees found the cameras. He remains suspended with pay.
20 April 2009, Morgantown, West Virginia: "FBI Workers Accused of Spying on Dressing Room: 2 FBI workers accused of spying on teenage girls trying on prom dresses at W.Va. mall," by Vicki Smith, The Associated Press.
Two FBI workers are accused of using surveillance equipment to spy on teenage girls as they undressed and tried on prom gowns at a charity event at a West Virginia mall. The FBI employees have been charged with conspiracy and committing criminal invasion of privacy. They were working in an FBI satellite control room at the mall when they positioned a camera on temporary changing rooms and zoomed in for at least 90 minutes on girls dressing for the Cinderella Project fashion show, Marion County Prosecutor Pat Wilson said Monday. Gary Sutton Jr., 40, of New Milton and Charles Hommema of Buckhannon have been charged with the misdemeanors and face fines and up to a year in jail on each charge if convicted. Sutton has been released on bond, Wilson said, and Hommema is to be arraigned later this week. Wilson did not know Hommema's age.
The workers were described in a complaint as "police officers," but prosecutors did not say whether the men were agents or describe what kind of work they did. The Cinderella Project at the Middletown Mall in the north-central West Virginia town of Fairmont drew hundreds of girls from 10 high schools in five counties. Organizer Cynthia Woodyard said volunteers, donors and participants are angry.
"I can't even begin to put words around what I consider an unspeakable act, the misuse of surveillance by a branch of our government in a place we felt so secure," she said. "Never in a million years would we have thought something like this would happen. We're in shock."
Hospice Care Corp. was sponsoring the event, offering prom dresses, shoes and accessories to girls who could not otherwise afford them. Dresses sold for as little as $5. Woodyard, director of marketing for Hospice Care, said this year's event was the biggest in the decade the organization has been holding it, with more than 800 dresses on display. The prosecutor would not say how authorities found out about the accusations. It was not immediately clear if the accused men had attorneys. Messages left at phone listings for Gary Sutton were not immediately returned; there was no listing for Hommema. The FBI issued a brief statement, but refused to answer questions. The statement said the Office of Inspector General was investigating.
"The FBI is committed to the timely and full resolution of this matter, but must remain sensitive to the privacy concerns of any potential victims and their families," the statement said.
21 December 2009, London, England: A CCTV image that goes too far, Loss of Privacy, by Irene.
The British government has committed a gross invasion of privacy when they turned their CCTV towards a bedroom. Transport for London manages more than 1500 CCTV cameras and have a live feed of someone else's bedroom. These cameras are supposed to be focused on the roads in London, so what purpose would a live feed of someone's bedroom serve? It would be bad enough if this was simply the view seen by some pathetic, voyeuristic CCTV operator who couldn't wait to get home to study their collection of magazines. But it was not. He -- or possibly she -- pointed a live traffic cam into a couple's bedroom and, as a result, this view could be seen by anybody on Planet Earth who clicked on the feed from that particular camera at 10.21 on 18th December, 2009. The Tfl website identifies where the house is. One can only hope that, as it will be easy to work out which house this is, the couple are supposed to be in each other's arms.
Considering this is a second floor window and 180 degrees away from the road, there's really no reason for the camera to ever be pointed in this direction. I post the information here to prove the same point the original author did. There must be facts to back up the claim that the CCTV operators are abusing their position. If you cannot provide proof of abuse, then a complaint cannot be registered with the local council or police to stop such actions from occurring again. I have also provided the picture with the personal information blacked out. The original and google map of the location is out there, however, I believe that the above photo provides all the evidence of abuse by the CCTV operator that is necessary. Fortunately, this time the bed was empty. What if it was your house and your bed and you had no clue that you were being watched when you assumed you were safe inside?
1 January 2010, Easton, Pennsylvania: "Pennsylvania employment law alert: Easton, PA Walmart sued for videotaping inside a bathroom," Nicole Howle, New York Injury News.
A lawsuit was filed against Walmart after the discovery of a camcorder in the bathroom. Employment lawyer alert- Walmart Supercenter slapped with a lawsuit for having a surveillance camera in a unisex bathroom. Easton, PA—Several former and current Walmart Supercenter employees filed a lawsuit which claimed the retailer videotaped employees and customers in a unisex bathroom. Seven former and current Tire and Lube department employees filed the lawsuit on December 21, 2009 in a county court, as reported by ABC News.
The lawsuit, which could board on criminal activity, named the Arkansas-based retailer along with four local managers. The suit was filed after several Walmart employees found the “off-the-shelf” video camera in a unisex store bathroom on March 31, 2008. Employees and customers, who were not notified of the surveillance, also used the bathroom where the camcorder was discovered, as a changing room. Walmart claimed two workers at the store were responsible for the camera.
A Walmart spokesperson stated, “Two associates were terminated for placing a camera in an associate dressing room bathroom… When store management learned of the camera, it was immediately removed.” But the court filings stated the retailer's loss-prevention unit put the video camera there. The lawsuit further alleges that the camcorder was utilized to watch employees for shoplifting, and it is unknown how long the camera was in place. None of the plaintiffs were accused of stealing. In addition, a manager only admitted to the existence of the surveillance camera after employees produced a photo of the camera inside the restroom. Reportedly, three of the plaintiffs were fired after complaining to management about the camcorder in the bathroom. The lawsuit also alleges that Walmart violated the federal and state wiretapping laws, invasion of employees' and customers' privacy, wrongful discharge, and violation of worker and civil rights practices. The lawsuit is seeking over $500,000 in damages.
28 January 2010, Bangor, Maine: "Man gets 15 years for porn involving girlfriend's child," Eric Russell, Bangor Daily News.
An Islesford man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for production of child pornography, conduct a federal judge referred to as “a bizarre, extraordinary and inexcusable invasion of [the victim's] privacy.” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock issued the sentence to Daniel Poulin, 44, who used a sophisticated pinhole camera system to videotape his girlfriend's teenage daughter over a period of several years.
The victim, who was between the ages of 13 and 18 when the videotaping occurred, addressed the court on Wednesday and said Poulin's “demoralizing and degrading” actions have scarred her for life. “He crossed any boundaries with his inappropriate obsessions,” the young woman said.
Poulin wore a wrinkled suit and appeared relaxed during the 90-minute sentencing. In addition to the 15-year prison term, Poulin also will submit to supervised release for 10 years and will have to comply with the state's sex offender registry requirements. The charges were federal charges because Poulin bought the surveillance cameras from a Texas company and had them mailed to him in Maine. He had been found guilty last September of producing child pornography after a four-day jury-waived trial.
An initial investigation began in 2006 after Poulin and his then-girlfriend broke up and the woman found DVDs in her home that showed her daughter in various stages of undress. Further search of the home, as well as a search of another home owned by Poulin's mother, found nearly 30 additional DVDs and four pinhole cameras, which had been set up in the bathroom. One camera was even used in a toilet. The videos that were seized spanned several years and at least four different residences in central and coastal Maine. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone said Wednesday that the sheer duration of Poulin's conduct and the amount of effort he put into taping the footage and then editing it down were staggering.
“After all of this, he continues to argue that this wasn't child pornography,” she said. “He still doesn't get it, and from a sentencing perspective, this is profoundly troubling.” Poulin's attorney, David Van Dyke, said his client always has admitted that he invaded the victim's privacy. He disagreed, however, with the characterization that the video and images produced were child pornography in the traditional sense. He also pointed out that they were never distributed.
Woodcock essentially agreed with Van Dyke's assessment of the images, which did not show any sexual conduct, but mostly depicted the victim undressing or toweling off after showering. However, because many of the video clips and images focused on the girl's genitals and because they were taken while she was under the age of 18, they fit the federal definition of child pornography. Additionally, evidence revealed during the trial showed that Poulin masturbated to the video imagery. The judge was somewhat lenient in his sentencing of Poulin in the sense that it was the mandatory minimum term allowed under federal guidelines for the crime, but Woodcock addressed Poulin's conduct with stern words.
“Your conduct gives an entirely new meaning to the term obsession,” the judge said. “It was not merely criminal, but wrong on many, many levels.”
Van Dyke indicated after his client's trial last September that the case raised many questions that could lead to an appeal, but it wasn't clear Wednesday if Poulin planned to appeal. In his sentencing, Woodcock addressed the victim and said he was impressed with her composure and articulateness throughout the trial.
“I am confident that you can put this behind you,” he said.
10 February 2010, Florala, Alabama, USA: "Tan shop owners behind bars," by Stephanie Nelson, Andalusia Star-News.
Two Florala men were jailed Monday following allegations they secretly watched their customers at Westside Video and Tans as they undressed and dressed while tanning. Florala Chief Sonny Bedsole said the arrests followed a discovery by a female customer who noticed a video camera above the tanning bed Monday morning and reported it to police. Officers from law enforcement agencies throughout the county, as well as those from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, spent Monday looking through the men’s retail business and Eighth Avenue home before leaving the scenes with a multitude of video surveillance and computer equipment.
“This is what we know thus far,” Bedsole said. “We located both marijuana and meth inside the business. We also found an active camera on a wireless camera system that was being fed to an office-type area above the video store. We know that the video stream was being viewed by the two, but what we don’t know at this point was whether or not there are videos or images on those computers. That’s where ABI’s cyber crimes unit comes in.”
Bedsole said he could know as early as Friday if images were found on the seized equipment. Tuesday, Bedsole said numerous parents and other concerned patrons had contacted the department about the status of the case.
“They’re concerned about privacy issues -- and rightly so,” he said. “We all know that is a situation where a customer is in various states of disrobe, and if you’re a parent of a 14-year-old who tans there, you have a right to be concerned. We’re asking anyone who feels like they were specially directed to a specific bed or noticed anything unusual to come by and see us.”
Bedsole said when the surveillance began, the men initially vacated the Florala area but were ultimately located in Andalusia and taken into custody. He said if there were recordings of teens and young adults, it could lead to federal charges and placing both the business and residential property subject to seizure. The two men face two counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of criminal surveillance. Each was held in the Covington County Jail under a $250,000 bond.
19 February 2010, Lower Merion, Pennsylvania: "Student says school webcam spied on him at home," by Nicole Bliman, CNN.com.
Pennsylvania parents are suing their son's school, alleging it watched him through his laptop's webcam while he was at home and unaware he was being observed. Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley are suing the Lower Merion School District, its board of directors and the superintendent. The parents allege the district unlawfully used its ability to access a webcam remotely on their son's district-issued laptop computer. The lawsuit seeking class-action status was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The suit said that on November 11, an assistant principal at Harriton High School told the plaintiffs' son that he was caught engaging in "improper behavior" in his home and it was captured in an image via the webcam. According to the Robbinses' complaint, neither they nor their son, Blake, were informed of the school's ability to access the webcam remotely at any time. It is unclear what the boy was doing in his room when the webcam was activated or if any punishment was given out.
Doug Young, a spokesman for the Lower Merion School District, said the district would only remotely access a laptop if it were reported to be lost, stolen or missing. Young said if there were such a report, the district first would have to request access from its technology and security department and receive authorization. Then it would use the built-in security feature to take over the laptop and see whatever was in the webcam's field of vision, potentially allowing it to track down the missing computer. Young said parents and students were not explicitly told about this built-in security feature. To receive the laptop, the family had to sign an "acceptable-use" agreement. To take the laptop home, the family also would have to buy insurance for the computer. In an "acceptable-use" agreement, the families are made aware of the school's ability to "monitor" the hardware, he said, but it stops short of explicitly explaining the security feature. He termed that a mistake. Young added that mistakes might be made when combining technology and education in a cutting-edge way.
All 2,300 students at the district's two high schools were offered laptops to "enhance opportunities for ongoing collaboration and ensure that all students have 24/7 access to school-based resources," according to a message on the superintendent's Web site, which the suit quoted. Young said the district is proud of the laptop program and the ability to close the technology gap between students who have computers at home and those who don't. But he acknowledged schools will have to take a step back to re-evaluate the policies and procedures surrounding the program.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania isn't involved in the litigation, but its director, Vic Walczak, criticized the school district's action.
"Neither police nor school officials can enter a private home, physically or electronically, without an invitation or a warrant. The school district's clandestine electronic eavesdropping violates constitutional privacy rights, intrudes on parents' right to raise their children and may even be criminal under state and federal wiretapping laws," Walczak said "... George Orwell's '1984' is an overused metaphor, but it applies here in spades. Part of the school officials' punishment should be to retake ninth-grade civics class."
Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation who specializes in electronic privacy, also said the school may have broken federal wire-tapping laws. He called the school district's action "foolish and dangerous," saying the matter could prove to be a warning to other districts.
Multiple requests for further comment from the Robbinses' attorney, Mark Haltzman of Lamm Rubenstone LLC, went unanswered.
10 March 2010, Fairmont, West Virginia: "FBI guard's dressing room spying case dismissed." The Associated Press.
Prosecutors in West Virginia have dropped a misdemeanor charge that accused an FBI security guard of spying on girls as they tried on prom gowns at a Fairmont mall. A Marion County magistrate convicted Charles Brian Hommema of invasion of privacy in December. Hommema appealed his conviction and a bench trial was set for Tuesday. But the case was dismissed after Marion County Assistant Eric Wildman said the state determined there wasn't sufficient evidence. Authorities had said a surveillance camera outside the FBI's Middletown Mall office was aimed at temporary changing rooms and zoomed in on girls as they tried on prom gowns at a charity event. Fellow guard Gary Sutton Jr. was previously sentenced to probation in the case.
15 March 2010, Charleston, South Carolina, USA: "US Forest Service admits putting surveillance cameras on public lands: Charleston man surprised when he found one while camping with daughter," by Tony Bartelme and published by the Beaufort Gazette.
Last month, Herman Jacob took his daughter and her friend camping in the Francis Marion National Forest. While poking around for some firewood, Jacob noticed a wire. He pulled on it and followed it to a video camera and antenna. The camera didn't have any markings identifying its owner, so Jacob took it home and called law enforcement agencies to find out if it was theirs, all the while wondering why someone would station a video camera in an isolated clearing in the woods. He eventually received a call from Mark Heitzman of the U.S. Forest Service. In a stiff voice, Heitzman ordered Jacob to turn it back over to his agency, explaining that it had been set up to monitor "illicit activities." Jacob returned the camera but felt uneasy. Why, he wondered, would the Forest Service have secret cameras in a relatively remote camping area? What do they do with photos of bystanders? How many hidden cameras are they using, and for what purposes? Is this surveillance in the forest an effective law enforcement tool? And what are our expectations of privacy when we camp on public land?
Officials with the Forest Service were hardly forthcoming with answers to these and other questions about their surveillance cameras. When contacted about the incident, Heitzman said "no comment," and referred other questions to Forest Service's public affairs, who he said, "won't know anything about it."
Heather Frebe, public affairs officer with the Forest Service in Atlanta, said the camera was part of a law enforcement investigation, but she declined to provide details. Asked how cameras are used in general, how many are routinely deployed throughout the Forest and about the agency's policies, Frebe also declined to discuss specifics. She said that surveillance cameras have been used for "numerous years" to "provide for public safety and to protect the natural resources of the forest. Without elaborating, she said images of people who are not targets of an investigation are "not kept." In addition, when asked whether surveillance cameras had led to any arrests, she did not provide an example, saying in an e-mail statement: "Our officers use a variety of techniques to apprehend individuals who break laws on the national forest."
Video surveillance is nothing new, and the courts have addressed the issue numerous times in recent decades. The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, and over time the courts have created a body of law that defines what's reasonable, though this has become more challenging as surveillance cameras became smaller and more advanced. In general, the courts have held that people typically have no reasonable level of privacy in public places, such as banks, streets, open fields in plain view and on public lands, such as National Parks and National Forests. In various cases, judges ruled that a video camera is effectively an extension of a law enforcement officer's eyes and ears. In other words, if an officer can eyeball a campground in person, it's OK to station a video camera in his or her place.
Jacob said he understands that law enforcement officials have a job to do but questioned whether stationing hidden cameras outweighed his and his children's privacy rights. He said the camp site they went to -- off a section of the Palmetto Trail on U.S. 52 north of Moncks Corner -- was primitive and marked only by a metal rod and a small wooden stand for brochures. He didn't recall seeing any signs saying that the area was under surveillance. After he found the camera, he plugged the model number, PV-700, into his Blackberry, and his first hit on Google was a Web site offering a "law enforcement grade" motion-activated video camera for about $500. He called law enforcement agencies in the area, looking for its owner, and later got a call from Heitzman, an agent with the National Forest Service.
24 March 2010, London, England: "Airport worker given police warning for 'misusing' body scanner: Man, 25, issued with harassment warning after allegedly taking photo of a female colleague at Heathrow," by Mark Tran and published in The Guardian.
The police have issued a warning for harassment against an airport worker after he allegedly took a photo of a female colleague as she went through a full-body scanner at Heathrow airport. The incident, which occurred at terminal 5 on 10 March, is believed to be the first time an airport worker has been formally disciplined for misusing the scanners.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police received an allegation regarding an incident that happened at Heathrow Terminal 5 on March 10. A first-instance harassment warning has been issued to a 25-year-old male." The BAA employee took a photo of his co-worker, Jo Margetson, when she inadvertently went through a scanner.
"I can't bear to think about the body scanner thing," she told the Sun. "I'm totally traumatised. I've spoken to the police about it. I'm in too much of a state to go to work." BAA said: "We treat any allegations of inappropriate behaviour or misuse of security equipment very seriously and these claims are being investigated thoroughly," a BAA spokesman said. "If found to be substantiated we will take appropriate action."
The incident is likely to reignite privacy concerns over the scanners by civil liberty groups. The Equality and Human Rights Commission last month warned that the government needed to take action to bring its policy for body-scanning passengers at UK airports within the law. The commission said it had concerns about the apparent absence of safeguards to ensure the scanners were operated in a lawful, fair and non-discriminatory manner. It raised doubts as to whether the decision to install them at all UK airports was legal.
The scanners were introduced at Manchester and Heathrow last month after the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit in the US. The £80,000 Rapiscan machines show a clear body outline and have been described by critics as the equivalent of "virtual strip searching". While American transport authorities offer passengers a choice between going through the full-body scanner or going through a metal-arch scanner and a physical search, the British government has said that a refusal to go through the body scanner would bar passengers from boarding aircraft.
Earlier this month two women, one a Muslim, became the first people to be barred from boarding a flight at Manchester airport because they refused to go through a full-body scanner. The women, who were booked to fly to Islamabad with Pakistan International Airlines, were told they could not get on the plane after they refused to be scanned for medical and religious reasons.
A House of Commons home affairs committee report on airport security today welcomed the scanners' deployment and said it should have come sooner.
"Having witnessed these full-body scanners working at first-hand, we are confident that the privacy concerns that have been expressed in relation to these devices are overstated and that full-body scanners are no more an invasion of privacy than manual "pat-downs" or searches of bags," the committee said. "Air passengers already tolerate a large invasion of their privacy and we do not feel that full-body scanners add greatly to this situation. Privacy concerns should not prevent the deployment of scanners."
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org