Is Big Brother Watching You?

Conspiracy theories and myths abound about surveillance of common people. Fear of the government agencies, employers and private detectives keep many in society from enjoying active lives. These people think that they must live under a rock to prevent unwanted access to their personal lives.

The truth is that much of life does involve surveillance. This is a dangerous world and criminals, terrorists and predators must be located. One primary means of doing so is with cameras.

Ordinary people are not the focus of this surveillance. In reality, nobody is really concerned about the activities of the average person. Here is the truth about the top myths about being watched.

8 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
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MYTH: Employers monitor internet usage.

Workers have a reasonable fear of their bosses knowing exactly how much time they spend on social media or watching pornography. It is true that any device provided by a company probably has some degree of intentional or unintentional surveillance.

Quite simply, the fact that the information technology department remotely updates employee software is a sure sign that they have access to the equipment. Yet, the cost of monitoring each employee is beyond the resources of most companies.

The average person, assuming no criminal activity involved, has little cause for concern.

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MYTH: Someone is constantly watching the cameras on public transportation.

When riding the bus or subway, passengers are often barely awake. In the morning, they may be experiencing a bad hair day. Then, they look, see a camera pointed at them, and panic. "Is somebody sitting in an office laughing at me," they wonder.

Actually, most cameras on public transportation are in film mode. It is impossible for the companies to watch every vehicle, station and platform they operate. Instead, the cameras film activity, which is then stored until needed after an incident.

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MYTH: ATMs take pictures of customer pin numbers.

There is a fear out there that ATM cameras record bank customers punching in their personal identification numbers (PINs). This myth is untrue.

The action-motivated cameras are there to record the person doing the transaction and their surroundings. This surveillance is an attempt to thwart robberies. The banks have no need to record PINs.

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MYTH: Fitting room attendants see customers getting undressed.

Some find it unnerving to think that a man or woman behind some two-way mirror can record them in a state of undress.

First, stores often do not have the resources to install cameras. Those that do have such capability always have same-sex security watching the monitors.

Finally, the cameras are for viewing only. Tapes are usually not made of customers. Security uses the cameras exclusively to catch shoplifters before they leave the store, not to maintain a record of each customer.

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MYTH: Airport X-Rays record images of naked bodies.

This myth is untrue. The monitors see mostly the outline of passengers’ bodies, no recognizable faces. Furthermore, the record is stored out of sight and viewed in detail only if there is a problem involving the passenger.

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MYTH: Theaters monitor the audience during movies.

Those out on dates wonder if the management of the local theater watches them sneaking a kiss at the movies. Probably not, is the answer; first, theaters are too dark. Second, the employees cannot spend a full two hours hoping to catch someone in the audience doing something interesting.

During occasional glances at the audience, security does take notice of electronic devices being used. The lights on cell phones, for example, warrant interest because the user could be recording the movie. Other than this criminal activity, patrons have little need to worry.

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MYTH: Libraries turn over patron records to the authorities.

This myth, though true, only occurs in rare instances. The authorities must obtain a warrant first. Anyone who is worthy of that distinction probably is fully aware they are being watched anyway. They have greater worries than a library check out record.

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MYTH: Personal You Tube videos can cost employees their jobs..

Employers would find it very hard to locate an employee's personal video account. In general, it is criminals who post videos of their activity, which then somebody reports to the authorities, that find themselves in trouble.