Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submitlogin
Secretive Surveillance Company Is Selling Cops Cameras Hidden in Gravestones (www.vice.com)
101 points by Ivoah 5 months ago | hide | past | web | 53 comments | favorite





I often see people say that we don't have an expectation of privacy in public. However, it seems to me that ignores the nuance of actual social norms.

- Eavesdropping is generally considered anti-social.

- Taking up-skirt pictures in public is, I presume, illegal.

- If someone buys their prescriptions at a public grocery store, would it be alright for someone in the store to photograph their medical data?

It seems to me that the law needs to differentiate between the general sense in which one doesn't have privacy in public (e.g. the public probably has the right to know if a "family values" politician goes to a strip club) and actively spying on someone.

This is particularly the case when technology makes spying possible in a way that it wasn't previously. For example, I imagine it's not uncommon for many people to carry confidential information openly (say carrying a prescription in your hand as you walk to the grocery store) because it's not realistically possible for someone to read it and connect it to you. However, that changes with high speed photography, OCR, and facial recognition.


> the public probably has the right to know if a "family values" politician goes to a strip club

Why anymore so than if YOU go to a strip club?

I am a fervent supporter of recycling, should I expect a person to follow me around in public waiting for me to throw a soda can into the wrong bin?

Because one SUPPORTS a specific policy, does not mean one has to LIVE their life by that policy.


For politicians, authenticity of belief is a big concern. If you are someone who geniuenly believes strip clubs are a moral evil, why do you deserve to be manipulated by a politician who doesn't actually care about the issue and is only trying to steal your vote

Why is it manipulation, if they say they are going to shut down strip clubs, and actively work towards it, why should I care if they WANT to shut them down, vs doing it because it is a campaign promise.

Politicians actively working against their own interests to do what they feel is truly better the country should be held in high regard. You may agree with their policies or not, but you can't fault a person for enjoying something they are against.

I smoked pot as a teenager, and enjoyed it, and fondly look back on those days getting high with my friends. Your view point would mean I couldn't actively be against teenagers smoking pot, and if I were a politician, I should not back anti-smoking legislation for teenagers.


>I smoked pot as a teenager, and enjoyed it, and fondly look back on those days getting high with my friends. Your view point would mean I couldn't actively be against teenagers smoking pot, and if I were a politician, I should not back anti-smoking legislation for teenagers.

I mean probably, you literally said you enjoyed it...


>Politicians actively working against their own interests to do what they feel is truly better the country should be held in high regard.

Please mention one politician who works against their own interest. Cos I don't know any.


Bernie Sanders is a millionaire who will absolutely raise his own tax rate for the good of the country.

A third party can blackmail a politician if they are hiding whatever they think is hurtful for their career. Not that I care about what they do on their personal time but transparency has its benefits.

This is only because politicians think people care about their personal lives instead of furthering the agenda they were elected for.

Trump is a perfect example of this:

Many evangelicals will look the other way when confronted with his personal life, because he is putting structures in place to further their agenda.


> Why anymore so than if YOU go to a strip club?

We grant elected officials with powers granted by law. And if they abuse those powers for financial gain, or say, enjoying the fruits of human traffickers, yeah, we as a public have a right to know.

And granted I'm talking about illegal actions of a public figure here in public.

If the politician is single and he frequents "upstanding" strip clubs if there is such a thing, and nobody cares, why should we?


I've heard paparazzi justifying their actions with an argument that if you want newspapers to report you visited a school or factory or charity event - which politicians all do - you also consent to newspapers reporting you visited a strip club.

Personally I don't find that 100% convincing - people like child celebrities and members of the royal family aren't given a choice - but nobody gets made state senator by accident!


> Why anymore so than if YOU go to a strip club?

Two reasons:

1) People in the spotlight (like politicians) are expected to behave as role models. Especially where moral values are concerned, one can reasonably demand that politicians live according to the same standard as they demand from the citizens. Otherwise, it rapidly devolves into "rules for thee but not for me", destroying trust in the fairness of democratic institutions.

2) In close conjunction with #1, behavior like cheating on one's wife or other (mostly sexual) deviance is either considered socially inacceptable or at least to be damaging to relationships. This creates leverage for bad actors, known as "Sexpionage" - the "kings" here of course are the Russian KGB/FSB who are at least rumored to have actual material of the current US president.

Basically, the public should demand transparency and decent behavior from politicians and other state officials to make sure they are not subject to extortion attempts no matter by foreign states, criminal organizations or by legitimate mega-corporations.

> Because one SUPPORTS a specific policy, does not mean one has to LIVE their life by that policy.

The more radical you appear, the more scrutinized your behavior will be. No one's gonna bat an eye about the contents of your trashcan if you're just supporting a law mandating recycling... but if you are the major initiator of a law or lead public campaigns for recycling, prepare for being in the spotlight.


That's called hypocracy

Exceptions have to be banned individually. Upskirt photos are a good example because everyone assumes they'd automatically be illegal, but that's not how it works.

https://time.com/15432/massachusetts-poised-to-ban-upskirt-p...

https://www.bustle.com/articles/86029-oregon-attempts-to-ban...


> public grocery store

Where do public grocery stores exist?


This story is a bit weird. The company is trying to repress publication of their catalog that was obtained from a FOIA act request directed at a small police department. Well this company is emailing their catalog at police departments nationwide. Fair enough but the catalog is certainly not a matter of national security as they are abusively claiming.

Their items are fairly boring and things that anyone here with a modicum of competence could hack together easily. Camera and transponder in a gravestone, child car seat, etc. basic stuff. Nothing is a big secret, why are they acting like it is? I guess to get attention. If a police department needs any of their items, they can save money hiring a high school student with modest skills and awareness of what's available on aliexpress.


I suspect moreso if it becomes common knowledge exactly what the 'police baby seat' looks like, police investigatons might be compromised.

I'd like to see the risk assessment of whoever made that baby seat though - removing a chunk of foam and replacing it with electronics doesn't sound good for the baby's health in case of an accident, and I doubt very much the manufacturer of police spy gear has the expertise to re-test it.


>I suspect moreso if it becomes common knowledge exactly what the 'police baby seat' looks like, police investigatons might be compromised.

I think it's more likely that they don't want to be forced to reduce their profit margin by having to embed their crap in a wider variety of baby seats, grave markets, alarm clocks, etc. If they can skate by with one or two models of each they will make more money.

>Removing a chunk of foam and replacing it with electronics doesn't sound good for the baby's health in case of an accident, and I doubt very much the manufacturer of police spy gear has the expertise to re-test it.

Call me cynical but they likely don't care about that because they almost certainly make the departments take responsibility for use of their products. The departments don't care about being liable because they can usually hand-wave that sort of thing away under qualified immunity and if a judge does make them take responsibility and the departments don't care because the lawsuits are paid with our money, not theirs.


Why is it assumed that the safety of the car seat is compromised because of installing a camera? There is plenty of void space inside of a car seat. The only foam sections of the seats I have are around the head-area. The rest is just plastic with a slightly padded cover.

Is not the void space important in that collapsing to absorb energy is necessary? Stuffing the voids can absolutely make it dangerous.

I'm fairly certain that car seats are not designed to have crumple zones. If you had enough pressure to cause the plastic of a car seat to collapse inwards, you most likely have way bigger problems on your hands.

If a police department needs any of their items, they can save money hiring a high school student with modest skills and awareness of what's available on aliexpress.

Would evidence collected by an ad hoc device installed by a student be admissible in court? I always understood that most of these devices are expensive because they have features that can be used to verify the chain of evidence. Something bought from Aliexpress won't.


It should be given that chain of custody can be maintained just fine for random devices and pieces of evidence in crimes. A whole device would certainly qualify even if overkill for other contexts when random security camera footage from witnesses can be verified and a copy taken in.

I can see headline stories about policing "Mourn Porn"

Previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22022010

Copying my comments from there:

---

> In warning the site not to disclose the brochure, SSG’s attorney reportedly claimed the document is protected under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), though the notice did not point to any specific section of the law, which was enacted to regulate arms exports at the height of the Cold War.

We really need an overhaul of all these old laws that were enacted for a completely different era, which are now being misused. Another example is 200 year old laws being used to get companies to break encryption.

---

I don't know how I feel about hidden surveillance cameras in public. I know I shouldn't have any expectation of privacy in public and all that, but CCTV cameras in plain view are a different matter.

Are we going to live in a world where we're constantly being recorded and analysed by hidden cameras? This makes me very uneasy. Whatever happened to the idea that democratic governments should be for the people?

I'm sure there's no way that this can ever possibly be misused /s.

If agencies are using these for surveillance on specific targets then that's maybe okay, but as far as I'm aware, there is not much regulation regarding hidden cameras in public - at least, not in many parts of the world.


They are nothinh but flaming corrupt hypocrites. They operate in the business of surveilance yet have the gall to complain about their non-existant right to privacy as an organization?

The fact they aren't even citing the subsections hints at specious legal intimidation. The complexity is too high, lawyers are too expensive, and abuses of the law go too unpunished.


I don't like CCTV in a hidden or a visible manner. It doesn't make me feel save at all, on the contrary. I have been a target of vandalism multiple times and a cam might have helped in solving a type of crime that otherwise would very likely remain unsolved. But it is just not worth it and it is not even close.

If a camera would film my immediate vicinity where I live, I wouldn't certainly extend that vandalism to state property.

Public transport increasingly uses CCTV as do some chains of supermarkets. Otherwise it is not yet established in my country yet but I already avoid both.

And bashing a window is still nothing compared to crimes some security agencies or police forces have comitted.


>Whatever happened to the idea that democratic governments should be for the people?

Unfortunately, that idea is smeared as "populism" these days and considered wrongthink.


Is there a price?

Taking a raspberrypi zero, a camera, 4g modem, a couple of batteries and a charge circuit can turn any large-enough object into a hidden camera, for <$100 + the price of object itself (+ some dremel-ing and superglue).


I find it more interesting that they are threatening journalists with civil lawsuits and criminal penalties for disclosing the contents of their advertising brochure than the actual contents of that brochure.

Am I the only one who thinks that in the future we might have with us at all times some sort of complex infrared video-camera-blocking tech, together with a sound jammer?

No worries. If such surveillance devices become widespread, complex infrared video-camera-blocking tech will be outlawed - after all, they are there to provide security and prevent crime, hence anybody trying to thwart them is either against security or a criminal...

/s


> anybody trying to thwart them is either against security or a criminal

Please could you tell me what you read in this article?

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/britain-stole-45-t...


This wouldn’t make a difference.

Read Eyes In The Sky or just generally about WAMI (wide area motion imagery): https://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Sky-Secret-Gorgon-Stare/dp/05449....

There will have to be legislation around use and access in order to have any real protection.



>The Tombstone Cam ...all inclusive system can be deployed for approximately two days with the include PB-180LiFePO4 battery."

Considering that the structure they have to work with has at least the appearance of hundreds of kilos of granite, so there's not a very tight constraint on weight or volume, I'd think they could at least provide for, even as an option, a battery that would last for a week or a month.

That, plus some of the prices quoted give me the impression that this company is one of those that charges silly money for mediocre engineering.


A surveillance company can have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Methinks they doth protest too much.

This in conjunction with 5G would make surveillance complete. I wouldn't be surprised if 5G got some free channel/band used specifically for "telemetry" from all 5G-capable devices around, transferring real-time audio etc.

there is nothing special about 5g vs current solutions. it’s just faster and supports more clients per station with worse range.

It's just there is too much bandwidth there and some could be repurposed for "telemetry". Many things can be derived from parallel audio/video/IMU streams from multiple phones/devices around a certain spot of interest. Storing them for e.g. a month, automatically analyzing streams with Deep Learning, with suspected ones passed over for a human review. 5G could be a testing tech for that due to bandwidth capabilities.

sorry, does 5g magically give other people access to all the phone audio in an area?

Nope, but it could be used to R&D a new tech that would make mandatory connections to nearby 5G to some "telemetry" band where all sensory information would go, regardless of whether you like it or not. Similarly to how SMS type 0 is handled by baseband processor in every single cell phone already - you don't even know you received/sent hundreds of those. It's not like there isn't some precedent already most people don't know about...

yes, and i guess they could r&d a 5g standard that streams 4k video from your phone to the nsa at all times on a particular band. the standards bodies would still have to agree to it and consumers would have to want to buy it. i will reserve my concerns for things that actually happen.

Modern light of other days.



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: