Protecting Yourself From Hidden Cameras

Undoubtedly, there have been great advances in video and photographic technology which has allowed even the rank amateur to look like the greatest photographer on earth. Cameras have become lighter, smaller and much easier to use. Many include multiple modes of operation and even have an “auto” setting making them self focusing and simply point and shoot devices. With these advances also comes abuse.

It has become way too easy to snap a picture of someone without their knowledge. Many women have been horrified to find out they were the victim of a voyeurism attack when they find nude or other compromising pictures of themselves posted on the internet.

Voyeurism isn’t new, but the methods these sick individuals use are. For years all we had to do to protect our privacy was close the blinds or pull down the shades and the “Peeping Tom” was forced to look elsewhere for his cheap thrills. Cameras these days come in all shapes sizes and flavors. Both still and video cameras can be hidden in ANYTHING. Not to mention that just about every cell phone is equipped with a quality digital camera.

Voyeurism can generally be defined as “a place where one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy”. This varies from state to state and is widely interpreted. It simply means anyplace you think you should be entitled to privacy, is off limits to cameras, like a locker room, fitting room of a store, tanning booth, public rest rooms etc. BUT, where these laws fall short, and are exploited daily, are out in public places. Voyeurs or as I like to call them Perverts, have moved away from those locations covered by tougher laws and have begun stalking their prey out in public places. It is not uncommon to find hundreds or even thousands of pictures on porn websites of photos taken under women’s skirts and dresses. This is accomplished quite easily by hiding a camera on the tip of a shoe, a gym bag, or even a brief case and standing behind a woman.

Several states are proposing laws that will require all cell phone cameras to emit a loud and distinct “shutter sound” to make it more difficult to obtain voyeur type photos. There are already many different applications available to silence the noise a cell phone camera makes, so these laws although well intentioned will not do much to prevent victimization.

Unfortunately, women and children are the prime targets of voyeurs. The laws I have mentioned are good but not near good enough. Remember they only criminalize these activities in places where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that anyplace in public is fair game. So if you are in a mall wearing a dress it is actually LEGAL for a pervert to capture “up skirt” images under your dress, or “down blouse” down your shirt.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • It is very important for you to be aware of what is going on around you. Be alert to someone who is trying to stand very close, especially if he moves towards you after you move away.
  • Make sure you are conscious of the position of your legs when sitting on a bus, train, or other public location if you are wearing a dress or skirt.
  • When using an escalator, it is best for you stand sideways, with your back towards the hand rail. This will neutralize the position of advantage the voyeur naturally has by you being higher than he is.
  • When in a changing room, like in a clothing store, look carefully at any object that looks like it doesn’t belong. Keep in mind that cameras can be hidden in common, everyday items like smoke detectors, electrical outlets, tissue boxes etc. Take a close look at these items. When carefully examined, the camera lens does become visible.
  • If you find a hidden camera in a location where it obviously shouldn’t be, remain calm. Cover the lens if possible and notify the police immediately.

Most voyeurs are cowards and will run from confrontation. There are those though who are not content to just violate your privacy. They are intent on violating YOU! The same personal defense measures apply to a voyeur, as any other criminal looking to harm you. If you feel threatened, move away to a safer location, if you are followed, be prepared to defend yourself. Pepper Spray is always advisable and can help prevent an otherwise violent personal attack.