Photographer Zachary Pointon began his career in a standard fashion by taking photos of people on the street. His latest project however reveals how vulnerable we sometimes allow ourselves to be. By accessing unsecured web cams and security camera streams, he was able to capture people’s most intimate moments, when they assume they’re not being watched.
“I see this as street photography’s morally questionable Little Brother,” Pointon said in his article. His gallery is full of images that most of us would not think were so easily accessible; children’s cribs, hospital beds, a man asleep at his desk, and even a couple walking down a beach.
It isn’t only an amateur photographer that has this ability. For years, hackers have found their way into people’s homes via their webcams, and the information they’ve gathered has been used by ‘sextortionists‘ and law enforcement alike. There are even online tutorials teaching people how to access your webcam without turning on the indicator light.
The question is, how can people like you and I protect ourselves from this type of unbridled surveillance?
When we’re out in public, there honestly isn’t much. As Pointon reveals, even when you’re walking down a beach you could be monitored. However, there is an easy, low-cost solution to protecting your personal webcam. Are you ready for this? You may want to grab a pen.
Block your webcam.
In this day and age when privacy is becoming more of a priority for consumers, your options for webcam coverage are vast. The Economic Freedom Foundation has $5 stickers that won’t leave a residue, but if you’re feeling more creative, look no further than Etsy (AKA hipster Mecca). There’s also a C-slide if you often use your webcam to Skype and need quick access.
Unfortunately, there’s still no viable option for protecting the internal mic on your mobile phone or computer from someone wishing to record you. Muting the mic doesn’t work because there are ways to unmute it. According to Wired.com, the best way to thwart would-be spies is to a get a device that acts as a dummy mic. To your computer, it appears as an external microphone, but it will block sound from being picked up. It’s a bit disheartening that we’re having to come up with solutions when we’re at a distinct technological disadvantage.
Luckily, the power of the free market is on our side. If we begin to choose products that make security a priority, the market will likely adjust. Already, there are businesses moving to provide us with the privacy we’re all beginning to recognize as vital to our liberty. The Blackphone from Android is the most secure phone to date, but it’s $629. If they could just bring the price tag down a few hundred dollars, we’d be in business.