Re: Transparent society

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 21:47:59 MDT

We tend to talk about transparent society as tho it is some kind of
future threat, but let us look at where we are now.

I bought a wireless camera and receiver, in order to attach it to
a kite and fly over Mike Lorrey’s house.

{8^D Kidding Mike bygones. I bought one to size up the current
threat to privacy posed by these cheap wireless cameras, and determine
their suitability for a wearable. Here is my short report.

The camera I bought is an 80 dollar model. It has a wireless
transmitter that has a range of about 30 to 40 meters. It doesnt
matter what stands between the transmitter and receiver. It needs
a 12 volt power supply on both the transmit and receive ends.
The current draw is low enough that it would be useful as
a wearable cam, keeping in mind of course the limited range.
The transmitter unit will fit into a sphere the size of a baseball
and has a mass of about 170 grams. The receiver is slightly larger
and slightly heavier.

The device has very good resolution and good color, better than
the security cameras one sees in use today. The outstanding
weakness of this system is it has no means of adjusting for
lighting conditions, and so the picture appears fairly dark in normal
room light. In low room light, it becomes functionally useless.

So far so good, but heres the part that has me a bit worried: the
viewer on the transmitter has a plastic light shield that can be
filed off. If this is done, the light receiver lens is 2.5 mm
diameter (a tenth of an inch). If someone were to try to hide
one of these devices, they would need a space the size of a
baseball, a hole 2.5 mm diameter, and a power source.

Nowthen, imagine yourself in a hotel room. Search all around
for baseball sized places behind something. Where would
someone try to hide one of these devices? My first guess
would be in the TV. [Shades of Orwell’s 1984, eh?] One
could probably pull off a front panel, mount the thing in
there, drill a 2.5 mm hole, tap into the power cord, put it
back together and have a little spy system that the maids
would neeeeever notice, in fact you and I would have a
hard time finding it, knowing exactly what we are looking for.

If someone had a spycam mounted in the hotel TV, they
could set up the receiver in any room on that hall, or they
could save the cost of a room and set up the receiver and
VCR in a car out in the parking lot. There would be no
risk to the person receiving, because there would be no
way for you to figure out where the receiver is located,
it being a passive device.

So. 80 bucks for the camera, 90 bucks gets you a VCR
these days, and I think a tape is another couple, so 172
clams plus the cost of at least one night’s room rent
puts one in the spy business. Little kids can come up
with that kind of money, and when it comes down to
it, that is exactly the kind of person who might be
tempted to try such a scheme: the 12-15 crowd. There
is also the pervert crowd and perhaps an odd blackmailer
or two thrown in.

Nowthen, I see four ways to defeat such goings on:
1) Search the hotel TV for 2.5 mm diameter holes.
2) Keep the lights in your room low.
3) Turn the TV to face away from whatever you dont
want the whole world to see,
4) throw a towel or blanket over the TV.

Gives ya the creeps, does it not? Extropian friends, we must
face the fact that all technology is not necessarily good, even
if it is cool. We need not speak of transparent society as something
that is coming. We are already there. spike

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