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Hidden cameras and your privacy

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The inspiration for writing this article was given to me during the recent sale crazes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

I simply could not believe, perhaps in my naivety, the amount of covert digital surveillance equipment that was available online at discounted prices in the last couple of weeks.

This topic actually feels like a double deja vu for me – because this year I covered it extensively in two separate publications.

During the summer, I wrote an article for the IPA Journal titled “Big (or little?) Brother could be watching you!” which concentrated on the invasion of privacy in hotel rooms and rented accommodation:

Big (or little?) Brother could be watching you!

And last month I submitted a piece to the eForensics Magazine focusing once again on digital privacy during hotel stays.

(by the way, should you wish to purchase the complete magazine, the publisher offers a 20% discount with this code – eFAuTH0rM0B!Le20).

Disclaimer: No, I was not compensated for the article and no, there is nothing in it for me if you decide to buy it, either with the discount or without.

So here is my handpicked selection of the most outrageous hidden cameras that I have come across:

A baseball cap with a HD camera – designed for mobile surveillance and entering into areas where overt recording would normally be prohibited.

It’s a piece of nasty privacy-adversarial equipment that can easily be used in places like courtrooms or restricted areas at the airports.

A clothes hanger / hook – it can be  mounted on a wall where one can also conceal a power cable. Particularly dangerous in areas like public changing rooms in gyms…

A fake shower gel bottle with a hidden camera – there can be absolutely no confusion as to what the intended purpose and the intended environment of this device is.

This thing is particularly dangerous in rented accommodation (Airbnb, rented rooms, couch surfing scenarios, etc.) where one is not alarmed by the presence of somebody else’s cosmetics and hygiene products in the bathroom.

The model I found does not record continuously and the camera must be operated manually from close proximity (for instance a room next door).

A toilet brush with a hidden camera – staying on the topic of bathroom surveillance equipment, once again it’s not possible to confuse the intended purpose of this item.

Like the fake shampoo bottle, the camera hidden in a toilet brush is not a security camera – the only application it has is invasion of privacy of the person using the toilet.

This camera installed in the toilet brush holder has panoramic vision and despite being located low on the ground level, it can record pretty much everything in the whole bathroom (if placed correctly).

A fake screw micro camera – available in various shapes and types, this camera is specifically designed and advertised for surveillance inside toilet cubicles …

I noticed that some of these items were actually de-listed from Ebay and Amazon, possibly after somebody highlighted their true illegal purpose.

Fake chargers and socket adaptors – these cameras can be conveniently placed in an uninterruptible source of power, so they are capable of continuous, 24/7 recording (subject to digital storage limitation, that is).

Our day-to-day living spaces are so saturated with tech that most people will not pay any attention to another plugged in device with cables sticking out of it.

And finally...

The Rock – an ultimate piece of spy gear! This bizarre gadget is something between a spy movie prop and a cold war era contraption.

Basically, it’s a 500+ euro a piece fake rock that has a dual mode camera capable of recording in complete darkness.

It can also be triggered by motion and is capable of detecting heat.

So be extra careful, because nowadays even rocks can have eyes…

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