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Are Surveillance Cameras Going Too Far?

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A growing number of homeowners are installing surveillance cameras that let them view live streams on their smartphones from almost anywhere.

While it’s one thing to monitor for security, things change when you’re peeking in on friends and family.

Ken Hall installed a small security camera in his home when his daughter Gracie was born.

“It’s nice to have that sense of comfort, the sense of security to know that at any time during the day I can peek in and see what’s going on, making sure that everything’s good,” explained Ken.

All he has to do is open the app on his smartphone and he can see and hear his family and friends. He said it took a little time for his wife to adjust to always being on camera when she’s at home.

“In the beginning it was a little strange, but I think she’s become used to it,” said Ken.

Privacy attorney Sarah Downey said the explosion of these surveillance devices on the market is a concern.

“Surveillance is everywhere. It’s on the streets, it’s on our computers, so the home is really the last safe zone and with many of these home surveillance devices, even that sanctity is in trouble,” said Downey.

She believes security cameras can serve a useful purpose, but will force us to face some interesting etiquette issues.

“You can use it for children. You can use it as a baby monitor.  You can keep an eye on pets. But, you can also know in extreme detail what your guests are doing, your adult guests, and that’s something that they probably wouldn’t expect.  So that’s a really huge change for society and for our culture and it’s going to have a major, major impact,” explained Downey.

Russell Ure heads up Blacksumac, the maker of some of these cameras.  He sees these smaller monitoring systems as more than security.  He said they’re portholes of sorts into our homes.

“Sort of a new notion of being a family public space inside your home, so this is not, this is not a space that is public to everybody, but it’s public to a close member of your family,” said Ure.

He believes the systems allow parents to actually be closer to their children in some ways.

“Our lifestyles have forced us so far apart.  It’s allowing us to, to start to reconnect to our kids,” said Ure.

That’s how Ken feels, too.

“It was nice to be able to be connected to my daughter and to my wife while I was at work.  So, I can peek in on them and see, oh they’re playing.”

But what if you end up peeking in on your guests?

“If you’re going to use these tools, you have to be courteous about them. And, it’s a whole new world of, of etiquette with technology that we haven’t really had to deal with yet,” explained Downey.

As for making others aware of his cameras, Ken posts a typical security sign at his door and notifies all babysitters.

“We usually try to tell people, but sometimes, if they’re just friends and they’re coming over and, you know, it’s like no big deal.  We don’t, you know, we don’t say anything. I mean it’s not a policy. We don’t hand them a card and say, ‘You know, you’re under surveillance.'”

Russell Ure of Blacksumac says the growth in popularity of these types of devices right now is exponential.  He recommends letting your guests know if you’ve got a camera in the house.

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