Electronic surveillance is the use of electronic devices and other tracking technology to monitor someone or a location. The technology today has advanced to such levels that you can monitor the activities at your home from the comfort of your office or anywhere outside by simply installing CCTVs and linking them to your mobile phones to view the live feed of your house. Let’s look at other electronic devices and technologies that form a part of such electronic surveillance.
Types of Electronic Surveillance
Audio Listening and Recording Equipment: Private sleuths, law enforcement and intelligence experts use various types of easily concealed microphones or bugs to capture the conversations, sounds, and noises that can be later used as an evidence in court. Digital voice recorder, audio recorder, and audio amplifiers are also used to document the statements of the witness or notes about a case for later reference.
GPS Tracking Devices: Covert GPS tracking devices like radio frequency ID tags can be placed on individuals or vehicles that need to be tracked and monitored. Each such tracking device transmits a signal which gets intercepted by the scanning device and points out the location of the subject. Larger transmitters have an even wider range and use the satellite to secretly track vehicles travelling over long distances. A very common example is seen in logistics companies where the trucks and other vehicles are always attached to a GPS tracking device so their location and route can always be tracked.
Signal Interception: Electronic bugs can be physically attached to telephone lines or switch boxes to tap the calls or reroute them so they can be monitored. Radio equipment can also be tapped so that they can be listened to when the conversations happen over airwaves transmission.
Digital Cameras, Hidden Cams and Drones: Packaged camera systems, CCTV, and DVR monitors are some of the electronic surveillance systems that get used commonly not just by the police officials on a case, but also by the general public who wish to monitor their home to ensure safety at all times, or say, an employer of a company to keep his employees monitored during working hours in the office. Drones are being used not just for photography but also by the military to search for subjects, study them and plan their missions accordingly.
Advantages of Electronic Surveillance
Helps Curb Crime: The first and foremost advantage of electronic surveillance today is that it deters crime. There are CCTV cameras installed in almost all the important and public places today and people are aware of that. The mere sight of the camera is enough to send the message to a prospective criminal that he or she may get caught red-handed sooner or later and they may not feel safe to carry out a crime in such a protected environment.
Provides Evidence: The video or audio footage the electronic devices provide can be used as a solid evidence in the court of law and get a criminal the right punishment. The legal authorities can see the series of events unfold in front of their eyes.
Disadvantages of Electronic Surveillance
Privacy Concerns: There have been cases in the past where CCTV cameras were put to illegal or immoral uses and had stirred up controversies. Some might even feel that CCTV cameras intrude into the privacy without taking any permissions of the people, for example, say in the professional set up where an employee may not take too well to being constantly monitored as it gives a vibe of mistrust.
Expensive: As the technology keeps making progress, the costs of all these state-of-the-art gadgets is also soaring high. Depending on the features, some of these electronic devices can be very expensive. Also, some might argue that electronic surveillance only provides footage for viewing or hearing after the crime has been committed and cannot stop it while it is happening.
While electronic surveillance may play a crucial role in our lives and provide us with a sense of security at public places, there is a need to strike a balance between the right to such safety and right to privacy. The growing use of surveillance in all walks of life, even though may be important, but will still continue to have a mixed opinion. It is imperative that as a responsible individual you are aware of the laws surrounding the electronic surveillance devices before you plan on installing them or using them. While as a homeowner you may not need any special permissions to set up a CCTV camera inside your home, rules may differ in case you are an employer or run a school that needs to set up cameras in its classrooms or corridors. With more and more individuals growing sensitive to the issues of privacy, there is no room for illegal electronic surveillance setups.