Tagged With surveillance


We've all seen movies where the law enforcement heroes can find a single bad guy in a massive crowd using security cameras and some clever software. And, until recently, the world of fiction was where such fanciful things belong. But the Chinese government recently tracked down someone wanted over "economic crimes" by finding his face in a massive crowd.


I read an interesting quote over the weekend. To paraphrase, it said that if someone built a massive data gathering system a couple of decades ago, it would be called a surveillance operation. Today, it's called social media. What we now know is that a data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, harvested data from about 50 million Facebook profiles and used their analysis to predict how they would vote and to craft messages that would influence what they would do at the ballot box during the 2016 US Presidential election. The issues here are significant and go to the heart of how data is used.


If someone showed you a group photo containing your boyfriend or girlfriend, you could probably spot them without much trouble. But what if the photo was from ten years ago? Or what if their face was partially obscured? What if it contained thousands of people? That's when you might need artificial intelligence to help you out.

Chinese tech firm Yitu has perfected its facial recognition AI to such a degree that it can now identify faces faster than humans - even when they are intimately familiar with the face in question. Welcome to the next creepy stage of video surveillance.


Dear Lifehacker, I want to set up some security cameras to deter would be thieves but they cost an arm and a leg. I've checked out some dummy ones, and must say they look extremely convincing. My question is, if I install fake security cameras and get robbed, would it give my insurance company an excuse not to pay me?


While we often get hung up on matters of privacy and security when it comes to the actions of governments and law enforcement, there’s also the matter of privacy at work. Can your boss snoop on your email? What about CCTV footage? How about listening into phone calls? Legislative and ethical challenges abound.


WikiLeaks (read: Julian Assange) has released a massive cache of alleged CIA documents related to the US agency's cyberwar efforts. The information purportedly reveals covert CIA hacking tools that can take over iPhones, Android phones, internet-connected TVs and pretty much any type of computer.

If the leaks are authentic (and there's reason to believe they are), this means the agency can snoop on any encrypted message around the world by intercepting the missive before encryption is applied. Here's everything we know so far.


In the digital age of smartphones and instant messaging, it has never been easier to record and send videos and conversations involving other people. App features such as Instastory and Snapchat’s instantaneous video messaging abilities allow users to share real-time events and conversations to their friends and the public.

In many cases these secret videos spark significant public interest by providing a fly-on-the-wall perspective to an unusual event or crime. But is any of this legal? Let's find out.


Enabled by exponential technological advancements in data storage, transmission and analysis, the drive to “datify” our lives is creating an ultra-transparent world where we are never free from being under surveillance. Increasing aspects of our lives are now recorded as digital data that are systematically stored, aggregated, analysed, and sold. Despite the promise of big data to improve our lives, all encompassing data surveillance constitutes a new form of power that poses a risk not only to our privacy, but to our free will.


Dear Lifehacker, I was recently hired to mind a house and some pet birds by a couple who went on holidays. I later discovered I was under active video surveillance for the nine days I spent in their house. (One of the homeowners casually slipped it into conversation during handover.) While I respect their concerns and rights regarding security, I feel this was a continuous breach of my privacy. I was never informed of their intention to monitor me 24/7 and wouldn't have accepted the job if I'd known. So my question is: were they legally entitled to secretly record me or were they breaking the law?


Dear Lifehacker, Can you tell me what is the legal status for using a Livescribe smartpen in meetings, etc? The pen uses a specific note pad to take handwritten notes and it can also record what is said for later reference. I read somewhere that it's against the law to record conversations without permission. Should I be worried, and has anyone ever been charged for using one?


Dear Lifehacker, I own my apartment in NSW. I have installed two security CCTVs on my balcony (first floor) pointing directly down to where my car is parked. Because of the angle, the building across the street is also captured, along with anyone who passes on the footpath. What is the law for this? Is it illegal?