Tag Archives: Surveillance

Canada’s Proposed Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act – Open Season For Police To Spy On Canadians Online

imageIn 2005, Canada’s current Prime Minister Steven Harper made the comment – “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m done with it.”   He was right – the values that have defined Canada are gradually being replaced by values more appropriate to those of a quasi-fascist state. To those of my generation, Canada is indeed, becoming unrecognizable.

Canadians, much like their American cousins, post 9/11; continue to be coerced by government’s trump card – the war on terrorism. As a result, Canadians blindly continue to accept the invasion of their personal lives and, infringements on their right to privacy.

In a statement reminiscent of George Bush’s – “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists”, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, in an overreaching attempt to squash dissent on the recently introduced Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act – let loose with an outrageous slogan meant to vilify opponents – “stand with us or with the child pornographers”.

In other words, anyone who dares to oppose the Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act – which, will allow carte blanche government spying on Canadians’ Internet activities – without judicial oversight – is supportive of child pornography.

Those of us who disagree with the need for this legislation which would, in effect, place Canada in the same company as China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria – who subject their citizens to Internet surveillance – run the risk of being classified as criminals, perverts, and low life’s. As  Cicero, the Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, and political theorist reportedly said – “When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.”

This attack on reasonable and responsible discourse is hardly surprising, coming from a government intent on stripping away, layer by layer, the fundamental freedoms fought for, and won, by generations of Canadians.

To the historically challenged, and those that are less technology savvy, an intrusion into the sacrosanct ground of personal privacy – to protect children – may appear to be both reasonable, and prudent. After all, society’s protection of children must be part of the driving philosophy of any mature civilization.

But the curtailment of personal liberty – ostensibly for the common good – as this legislation supposedly is – has a rather unpleasant history. A history worth considering.

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“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

–  Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

More appropriate perhaps –

“Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.”

–  William Pitt (British Prime Minister, 1783)

Equally as appropriate –

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated. But those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.”

–  C.S. Lewis

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Just one of the many corrosive  provisions included in this legislation, would require Internet service providers to hand over subscriber data to the Police –  without a warrant. The familiar argument often pushed forward by supporters of this type of regressive legislation – if you have nothing to hide….. – simply doesn’t hold water.

Resistance to this legislation is not about being law abiding, it’s not about protecting children from the .0000001 %.

It is about not having every aspect of one’s life subject to close examination.

It is about not allowing Big Brother to spy on one’s Internet activities.

It is about a disturbing tendency of this particular government’s interest in knowing – and controlling – the Internet activities of Canadian citizens.

Thankfully, privacy and consumer advocates – including Federal, Provincial, and Territorial privacy commissioners – have taken a hard line and, have been speaking out against this proposed thugary. Even so, given the unyielding positions previously taken by this current regressive government – the consensus of opinion seems to indicate; this nonsense will pass into law. Ensuring that Canadians, will get a taste of what was once East German life under the Stasi (The Ministry for State Security).

The sad part of this whole exercise in repression is – it’s pointless as a control against child pornographers. Since the minds behind this abomination appear to be barely computer literate, they seem to be unaware of the following –

VPN applications (Secure Virtual Private Network Connection), commonly used in repressive countries such as Iran, China, and so on – which allow untraceable encrypted data (preventing disclosure of private information), are readily available for download on the Internet. Once connected to a VPN, an ISP no longer has the ability to follow.

I suspect that child pornographers are generally computer literate and, are well aware of the practical methods that can be used to avoid detection. VPN applications are just one such method.

The unpleasant reality is simple – unfettered government surveillance directed at Canadian Internet users.

If you are a Canadian, and you believe that it’s time to fight back against unreasonable control of your rights to access the Internet without censorship, and surveillance, you might consider joining OpenMedia.ca, which describes itself as “a grassroots organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open and affordable Internet.”

Finally, let me say – I considered long and hard as to whether I should post my opinion on this issue. The number of comments on the Net (and, in more than one national newspaper), in which personal fear of this government’s response to criticism was mentioned, weighed on my mind.

I find it stunning, that I’m living in a time in which some Canadians are fearful of their own government. The unfortunate reality is – they may have ample justification for those feelings.

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Filed under Opinion, Point of View

I Spy With My Little Eye – But iSpy Open Source Webcam Security Goes One Better

imageI watch you – you watch me. And, we all live together – happily – sort of. We live in a surveillance society, and whether that’s a good thing, or not, is open to much debate. We’ve discussed this issue here a number of times and, the consensus of opinion as expressed by readers is – Thumbs Down! – to surveillance in public spaces.

From a personal perspective, I have to admit to conflicting emotions. As a recipient of a  Neighborhood Watch award (back in the mists of time), I’m a strong supporter of the philosophy that we all share a responsibility to safeguard our personal environment. And, personal Web Cam surveillance, it seems to me, is an acceptable defense against hooligans intent on causing havoc.

I am NOT in favor, however, of broad scale deployment of security cameras by law enforcement based on the theory that doing so reduces crime. Survey after survey concludes that this is an urban myth. Worse yet, voyeuristic surveillance, such as this, is an assault on personal freedom.

But, on to how you can take advantage of a superb free (Open Source) Web Cam surveillance solution that includes a ton of built-in features. iSpy, last updated January 25, 2012, is an open source application which uses your webcam(s) and microphone(s) to detect, and record, motion and sound. And, a lot more besides.

Typical usage – click on graphic to expand.

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Fast facts:

Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.

Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web.

Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web.

Detect, highlight, track and record movement.

Detect loitering.

Customize movement detection areas on your cameras.

Detect and record sound.

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected.

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity).

Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams.

Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams.

Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support.

Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website) and also via mobile devices.

Access and control iSpy remotely.

Password protect iSpy and hide it in the System Tray.

Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically.

Time-lapse record from any camera.

Motion track and count moving objects.

Connect multiple instances of iSpy and iSpy server running on different computers to this website and view all aggregated media online.

Create groups, invite friends and share access to your webcams and microphones.

The following review is based on an older version of  iSpy –  January, 2011. The version currently running on my system.

Setting up iSpy while relatively uncomplicated, was not quite as easy as I would have liked. On the other hand, additional features often lead to more complexity.

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As the following screen captures indicate, you’ll be presented with a smorgasbord of fine tuning choices.

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Languages: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Deutsch, Español, Française, Hrvatski, Italiano, Magyar, Nederlands, Русский, Polski, Português and 中文

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7. Microsoft .Net framework will be installed if required. Windows media player 9 VCM codecs – will be installed if required.

Download at: iSpy Connect

iSpy user guide available here.

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance. If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, iSpy may be just what you’ve been searching for.

If you don’t need all of the features built into iSpy, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), I’ve previously reviewed Secure Cam, an open source surveillance application which should meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Cam, an application also covered in that review, is no longer available.

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Filed under downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Software

iSpy Open Source Webcam Security, Surveillance, And Monitoring Software

imageIf you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution that includes a ton of built-in features, then iSpy may be just what you’ve been searching for.

iSpy, last updated December 28, 2010, is an open source application which uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement, or sound.

iSpy provides a number of additional benefits over the two more basic free Web Cam surveillance applications described later in this review, including:

Access to captured media over the Web, and to mobile devices – as well as the local network.

iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously, and has full Email and SMS alerting capabilities.

While I found setting up iSpy relatively easy, it was slightly more complex than the two free applications described later. On the other hand, additional features often lead to more complexity.

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As the following screen captures indicate, you’ll be presented with a smorgasbord of fine tuning choices.

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As the following screen capture indicates, you can access captures over your local network (local machine), which may be all you need.

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Alternatively, you have the option of setting up an account, which will allow access to captured content over the Internet.

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Fast facts:

Access and control your cameras and microphones using your mobile device (iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7)

Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.

Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web

Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web

Detect, highlight, track and record movement

Record video and audio on demand (and via the web)

Detect and record sound

FTP frames from your camera to a remote server

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity)

Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams

Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams

Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support

Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website and over your local network) and also via mobile devices

Access and control iSpy remotely

Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically

Time-lapse record from any camera

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7. Microsoft .Net framework will be installed if required. Windows media player 9 VCM codecs – will be installed if required.

Download at: Download.com

Two additional free Web Cam surveillance solutions, previously reviewed here:

Secure Cam:

Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

image

You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

SecureCam 5

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for. In fact, this is the application I settled on.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: Source Forge

Rise Sun:

Rise Sun is another free web cam surveillance application I looked at that’s perhaps not quite as feature rich as Secure Cam. But, if you don’t need all of these features, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), this application is a very acceptable alternative that will meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Sun 3

(No, I don’t really have green dots on my face – this is the motion detector in action).

Installation is straightforward and the interface is simple – no esoteric manual to digest here. New users should not encounter any difficulty getting this application to perform as advertised.

Fast facts:

Works on all webcam models available on the market.

Powerful motion detection algorithm that allows flexible adjustments to suit your needs.

Extended Period Algorithm (For Extra Precision)

Automatically take pictures, logs events or display silent warnings when motion is detected.

Silent Alarm, Alarm, Motion Logging System

Extended Threshold, Sensibility and Performance Variables

Automatic Snapshot (JPG Compression to reduce file size.

While I haven’t run this application for very long, it’s a very capable application. It does what it’s designed to do, and turns your webcam into a fully functioning motion detection video surveillance system.

System requirements: Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7.

Download at: Download.com

Note: If you’re a Linux user you haven’t been left out in the cold. Checkout – Motion, a software motion detector, here. Since I now run Ubuntu more than half the time, this application is on my testing to-do list.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Video, Video Apps, Web Cam Applications, Windows Tips and Tools

Two Free Web Cam Surveillance Solutions – Secure Cam and Rise Sun

image Yesterday’s article on Luxand’s Blink, free facial recognition login software, was a bit of a hit – lots of reads, and lots of application downloads. So, I’ll take that as a sign of overall interest in free web cam applications.

Here are a couple of specialty web cam applications, that will turn your webcam into a security system of a sort.

In the last year I’ve done just that, since, in my neighborhood, the only form of crime where we have seen an appreciable increase is Burglary. From a personal perspective I’m concerned with this increase – electronic equipment seems to be a favorite target during a break and enter.

Being a Techno geek, I suspect I have far more electronic equipment, and toys, than the average person, and this increases my risk of loss. So, I have increased my perimeter security, windows, doors, and so on, very substantially. To supplement this increase in physical security, I have added a number of Web Cams strategically located both inside, and out.

Since I’m conservative in my spending habits (I’m cheap!), I searched for and found, a more than adequate software solution to my next question – how do I drive these cameras?

I took a close look at two of the free Windows software applications available for download, and tested them thoroughly, to ensure that either one would meet my needs. If you’re a Linux user, see the note at the end of this article.

Don’t be spooked by my harsh 6 AM Monday morning mug shots – definitely not my best time of day.  🙂

Secure Cam:

Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

image

You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

SecureCam 5

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for. In fact, this is the application I settled on.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: Source Forge

Rise Sun

Rise Sun is another free web cam surveillance application I looked at that’s perhaps not quite as feature rich as Secure Cam. But, if you don’t need all of these features, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), this application is a very acceptable alternative that will meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Sun 3

(No, I don’t really have green dots on my face – this is the motion detector in action).

Installation is straightforward and the interface is simple – no esoteric manual to digest here. New users should not encounter any difficulty getting this application to perform as advertised.

Fast facts:

Works on all webcam models available on the market.

Powerful motion detection algorithm that allows flexible adjustments to suit your needs.

Extended Period Algorithm (For Extra Precision)

Automatically take pictures, logs events or display silent warnings when motion is detected.

Silent Alarm, Alarm, Motion Logging System

Extended Threshold, Sensibility and Performance Variables

Automatic Snapshot (JPG Compression to reduce file size.

While I haven’t run this application for very long, other than for testing purposes, it’s a very capable application. It does what it’s designed to do, and turns your webcam into a fully functioning motion detection video surveillance system.

System requirements: Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7.

Download at: Download.com

Note: If you’re a Linux user you haven’t been left out in the cold. Checkout – Motion, a software motion detector, here. Since I now run Ubuntu more than half the time, this application is on my testing to-do list.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Linux, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Web Cam Applications, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Webcam Motion Detection Software – Two Free Applications

This is the year that you can prove to your children that Santa Clause really does exist!

Using one of the following free software applications, which will turn your webcam into a high-tech surveillance system, good old St. Nick will  be  caught just as he comes down your chimney. Hard to argue with that kind of proof – right?

After Christmas you can then use these applications to monitor your home, your office, or any other location, for that matter.

Secure Cam

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Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

SecureCam 5

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: Source Forge

Rise Sun

Rise Sun (where do they come up with these names?), is another free web cam surveillance application that’s perhaps not quite as feature rich as Secure Cam. But, if you don’t need all of these features, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), this application is a very acceptable alternative that will meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Sun 3

(No, I don’t really have green dots on my face – this is the motion detector in action).

Installation is straightforward and the interface is simple – no esoteric manual to digest here. New users should not encounter any difficulty getting this application to perform as advertised.

Fast facts:

Works on all webcam models available on the market.

Powerful motion detection algorithm that allows flexible adjustments to suit your needs.

Extended Period Algorithm (For Extra Precision)

Automatically take pictures, logs events or display silent warnings when motion is detected.

Silent Alarm, Alarm, Motion Logging System

Extended Threshold, Sensibility and Performance Variables

Automatic Snapshot (JPG Compression to reduce file size.

While I haven’t run this application for very long, other than for testing purposes, it’s a very capable application. It does what it’s designed to do, and turns your webcam into a fully functioning motion detection video surveillance system.

System requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/Vista/NT, Win 7

Download at: Download.com

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Living Life, Open Source, Software, Surveillance, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Secure Cam Motion Detection Surveillance Software – Free

image We live in a hyper surveillance society. Walk down the street, visit your favorite shopping mall, drop in at your local convenience store, or withdraw cash from an ATM machine and (smile), you’re on camera.

The theory behind all this surveillance is crime control on the one hand, and as an aid in apprehending the perpetrators of crime, on the other hand. Despite the fact that I’m very leery of surveillance technology, I must admit, I can’t find fault with the legitimate use of surveillance technology to reduce, or prevent crime.

In my neighborhood, the only form of crime where we have seen an appreciable increase is Burglary. Apparently, this increase in Burglary is being driven by those addicted to drugs, since a successful break and enter provides the funds needed to feed the habit.

From a personal perspective I’m concerned with this increase – since electronic equipment seems to be a favorite target during a break and enter. Being a Techno geek, I suspect I have far more electronic equipment, and toys, than the average person, and this increases my risk of loss.

Given this higher than average risk factor, in the last year or so, I have increased my perimeter security, windows, doors, and so on, very substantially. To supplement this increase in physical security, I have added a number of Web Cams strategically located both inside, and out.

Since I’m conservative in my spending habits (I’m cheap!), I searched for and found, a more than adequate software solution to my next question – how do I drive these cameras? The software question was easily solved by Secure Cam an open source application that met all my needs.

SecureCam 2

The hardware solution was just as easy, since I had an old Pentium 4 (1.6 GHz, 60 GB HD, 384 Mb Ram, etc.), which has proven to be ideal for this purpose – driving the cameras and saving the captured images to the Hard Drive.

In case you’re wondering, this machine is well concealed, and the cameras are only activated when my residence is not occupied.

SecureCam 4

Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a no cost Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: SnapFiles

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Living Life, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

Hi-Tech Spousal Abuse – Technology Perverted

domesticviolence 1 The U.S. Office on Violence against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

This article is gender neutral; clearly both men and women can be victims of domestic violence and abusive behavior.

Most of us would agree that new technology is, in most cases, unbiased. It is how we implement technology that establishes its value, and impacts any ethical questions that surrounds its use. It is clear that virtually all technologies, if used improperly, can be used to cause damage.

Over the past year I have reviewed several computer monitoring and keylogger products which I must admit, I had not considered could be misused as an aid in spousal abuse until it was brought to my attention. I suppose I shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as I was; after all many of these products are advertised as a method to detect a cheating spouse.

Curious about this, I Googled “cheating spouse”, and I was surprised to see over 900,000 hits. More surprising was the number of hits on “keyloggers for cheating spouse”; over 95,000.

Domestic violence.woman

Probing further, I discovered that this type of technology is now pervasive in spousal abuse. According to Anna Stepanov, manager of the Anti-Spyware program at McAfee Avert Labs, “Using spyware for surveillance in cases of domestic abuse is a serious matter.”

Stepanov, who is also the author of a report entitled Spyware: A Morphing Campaign, which describes current spyware trends that includes domestic abuse states, “Monitoring a victim’s online, cell phone, or general computing activity is of more value than ever in controlling or hurting a victim.”

Cindy Southworth, technology director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence commenting on this issue has stated “With spyware, if the victim is thinking about leaving, all that is captured. If the victim looks for plane tickets, shelters, a new apartment, it all shows up in the computer logs.”

Since spyware is now an issue in domestic abuse the agency cautions those in an abusive relationship not to use their home computer for these kinds of tasks.

All of this has now been compounded by the news that the misuse of GPS technology by abusive individuals is now rampant. GPS can be used to track a victim by transmitting coordinates that result in the generation of a web page that maps the victim’s location.

The U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence suggests the following to computer users, to reduce the impact of this type of abuse.

Internet Safety Tips for Abused Women

  • If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote hacking access to.
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
  • It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.
  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for normal activities, such as looking up the weather or recipes. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.
  • Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
  • Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities.
  • It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Personal Perspective, Privacy, Spousal Abuse, Surveillance