Under what conditions is a surveillance warranted? Take the definition of surveillance as the monitoring of human behavior, activities or for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing or protection, we can see that surveillance covers a lot of ground. The term is French meaning ‘watching over’ as ‘sur’ means ‘from above’ “veiller” means ‘to watch”.
Surveillance is accomplished in two types of endeavors. There is camera surveillance, like in a store or even a busy intersection. Downtown London in the UK is one of the most heavily video surveilled places on earth. Video surveillance is the primary method of forcing security by its presence. People tend to behave if they are under video surveillance. And for the retailer they can monitor their customers and employees guarding against theft. This is high tech surveillance.
Visual Surveillance Technology
Lower tech is the mark one eyeball of the tail (the person surveilling) looking at the surveilled entity. This is a favorite technique for private investigators. Surveillance in intelligence operation tends to be high-tech with much more of the electro-magnetic spectrum being used than just visible light. Infrared, radio frequencies and night vision for example. There is satellite thru military and police drones. One may never know if they are being surveilled.
But sometimes a surveillance is used to gather evidence, such in the case of an unfaithful spouse. A rolling surveillance can be via automobile or pedestrian depending on the circumstances. Monitoring of a business is static but mobile elements must be involved if the suspect decides to move.
Importance of Surveillance
Intelligence and evidence gathering are primary uses of surveillance. Governments do this to prevent crime or the protection of a person, group or object or the investigation of crime. Mass surveillance of the internet, cell phones and broadband communications is monitored under of the authority of the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act. This is a computer monitored system looking for certain key words. Triggers are certain words, visiting certain websites or communicating with certain groups or individuals. There is monitory software, data mining and programs that allow downloading of data from your system remotely. Cameras are used to surveil an area. They are connected to a recording device and/or an IP network. The cost of these systems has fallen dramatically making these devices economical enough for residential surveillance. One facet that has improved the utility of video surveillance is facial recognition that can even identify those wearing some disguises. All those traffic control cameras at intersections are also in many cases used to track vehicles. Facebook fan? Traffic analysis is routinely conducted on social sites and thus they are data mined for activities on interest to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Why? A primary threat is from decentralized, leaderless, geographically dispersed groups like subversives, dissidents, extremist and of course terrorist cells.
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Of course, at the business level is the act of espionage against a rival company. Businesses monitor internet access and emails for non-business use. Most have policies stating that the corporate computer systems are being monitored and that only official business use is sanctioned. Employees have been fired for stepping beyond the bounds set by policy. Porn is a big problem as is online gaming. So, big brother is already watching, be aware.
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