Small, cheap, digital circuits have changed many industries in that past two decades. One of those industries that has felt an incredible shift has been the photography and videography markets. Where hours of content were once stored on rolls and rolls of film, this content can now be stored on a chip no bigger than a thumbnail. Cameras are no larger than the head of a pencil. Batteries that were once heavy and bulky, can now be fitted into a pack of gum and weigh about as much!
Benefits to Security
For law enforcement these miniaturized cameras have caused a revolution. Body wires no longer need to be reduced to just audio but can be used for video as well. An agents testimony can be confirmed by jurors by watching the recorded event. Because of their small size and long record times, covert cameras can also be hidden, camouflaged, and operated remotely so an officer does not have to be put in harms way when capturing evidence.
However, there are always those who would use this technology for prohibited and immoral purposes. On a weekly basis the national and international news is filled with incidents of perpetrators being caught or convicted of illegally filming to acquire information or intimate details of a victim. Hidden cameras have been found in tanning beds, changing rooms, bathrooms, school locker rooms, and even cars.
Generally, there are two types of criminals that may use a hidden camera: perverts and thieves. For the former, he will choose to put a camera in locations that will guarantee people will be in various states of undress, however some have taken to attaching the cameras to their shoes or putting them in bags to procure images from underneath a woman's dresses.
Thieves utilize this technology to capture your financial information. In the last few years ATM fraud victims have had their PIN numbers stolen by small cameras hidden in ATM machines. Another ploy is to film people inputting passwords into computer terminals. This could occur in a private residence but often occurs at public computing terminals or coffee houses.
Terrorist may use hidden cameras to identify targets of interest or opportunities of vulnerability. Their aim is to leverage technology to aid in their mission whether that be kidnapping, destruction, or demoralization. A camera may be used to verify an individual is within range to carry out out any of the aforementioned attacks.
Intelligence Agency Threat
Hidden cameras are a vital tool for intelligence agencies who subscribe to the tactic of entrapment. The act of capturing someone in a compromising position has been used by many intel agencies as a viable means of coercing them into cooperating. This happened to John Vassall, a clerk in the UK embassy in Moscow. Vassall, a homosexual, was captured on camera in an embarrassing situation. The KGB then used the photographs to recruit Vassall for espionage. The KGB was well known for wiring up hotel rooms in Moscow to force people into becoming agents.
Miniaturized cameras have also been used to verify someone's identity or their associates. Having a suspected case officer and a suspected agent meet or pass in the same location is often enough for an arrest. In addition, meetings between businessmen from different companies can signal intelligence agencies that look for economic information, that a business deal may or may not occur.
Beyond that, spies have been using different forms of small cameras to take pictures of documents and classified reports for years. The only transition is that instead of using microfilm, today’s spies have a digital alternative.