The New York Times has a story today about how the X-10 Nanny-Cam — widely advertised in a universally despised “pop-under” web page — can broadcast its image far beyond the boundaries of your home. Encrypting the image and thereby protecting the privacy of camera owners would easily be possible, but it would create a significantly more expensive product.
There are any number of reasons why this is a depressing story, most of them obvious. What particularly galls me is that the customers most likely to be attracted by the product are the precise ones who are least likely to either understand the problem or be able to fix it.
And by the way, in New York State, where there’s a law governing video surveillance, the contention that interception of a video image is allowed by law is, um, questionable. My wife, who knows a thing or five about wiretapping law, says things may not be quite so cut and dried. Casual/accidental interception, like picking up radio waves in your braces, is one thing; purposeful interception could be quite another. The airways are public, so you shouldn’t really expect much privacy for anything you send over them. (This is why cordless phones should be — but frequently aren’t — encrypted.) It is, after all, called “broadcasting.”