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Avoid Nosy Video Surveillance Cameras

video surveillance cameras

by The Drifter on January 19, 2010

Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

Video surveillance cameras are everywhere.  What would it be like to be Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report, walking through a public space unable to avoid video surveillance cameras that know who you are?  Kinda creepy, huh?  This technology is on the verge of widespread implementation around the world.  Tommy got an eye transplant in the movie, which solved the problem.  Unfortunately, modern facial recognition software relies on several reference points so changing just a few traits, like two baby  blues, is usually not enough.  I like to have fun.  Sometimes that means doing something thrilling like skydiving or bungee jumping, and sometimes that means innocently and harmlessly being a trouble maker.   So, in that spirit, lets make some trouble.

Although public video surveillance cameras are found all over the place, especially in large cities and particularly in the UK, they are keeping an eye on you to make sure you don’t do anything you aren’t supposed to.  Their impact for good is minimal but their potential for misuse is great.  What is even more frustrating is the fact that the watchers are trying to keep the watch-ees from watching back.   So here are a few of the weaknesses that public video surveillance camera systems currently have.

Red Light and Speed Enforcement Video Surveillance Cameras

Red light cameras and speed enforcement cameras are a big part of the problem.  These cash machines are not intended to, and do not increase safety.  In many cases they are not properly calibrated or there is a malfunction in the unit capturing innocent people in the crosshairs.  In order to avoid being captured improperly, people can first avoid the cameras altogether by knowing what streets and highways to avoid.  In the US, photoenforced.com has a great list of these camera systems throughout the country.

If there is a need to frequent these areas, the red light and speed camera systems have difficulty establishing proof of guilt if the drivers face is obscured while near the intersection.  Each state and even each judge will have slightly different requirements for conviction, but some simple examples are putting the sun visor down low while in an intersection or wearing a sombrero pulled down low while driving.  Some have even driven a car configured for driving in the UK (driver sits where a passenger normally sits in the US) so there will be nobody in the drivers side of the car for the picture.   There are some other weaknesses and thoughts at highwayrobbery.net, but be sure to consult an attorney about your unique circumstance before relying on any of them as advice.

Avoid Surveillance Cameras

There is a really fun feature in NYC called isee which allows individuals to map out the path of least surveillance when walking in NYC.  I am surprised that this has not spread more quickly to include more areas.  If you can’t map out ahead of time to avoid the cameras, a laser pointer aimed directly at the lens of a camera has been shown to obscure the image of many surveillance cameras.  This does no damage to the camera.  Infra red LED lights can also be used to obscure the image of some video surveillance cameras when aimed at the lens and don’t emit any visible light that can be seen by other passersby.

Low Tech, High Effect To Avoid Video Surveillance Cameras

Like using a low tech hawala system, possibly the most practical and easiest way to avoid being identified on video surveillance cameras is to wear a hooded sweatshirt or coat with your face buried deep inside the hood.   Also, most cameras are mounted several feet overhead so looking down helps obscure identity.  This is easier done in Minneapolis than in Miami but I’m sure appropriate modifications can be made to blend in with the fashions of warmer climates.  Even celebrities use this simple method to do their best to avoid “unwanted” attention.


These are just fun observations of the weaknesses of constant public video surveillance.  It takes little effort to avoid most video surveillance camera scrutiny.  No eyeball transplant necessary.  Maybe a thourough read of the book How To Vanish would help too.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The Drifter is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties. This is merely one article of 129 by .
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hah January 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Instead of an eyeball transplant, he should have just used colored contacts.

2 Brittany February 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Have you considered the possibility that your advice might be used by criminals to avoid recognition by the authorities?

3 Bill Rounds J.D. February 6, 2010 at 1:07 am

A lot of people ask me that question, so i think it is a legitimate concern. In my law practice I see a lot of documentation of police investigations of criminals and their method of operation. Scumbags are already using the legal tools and techniques that we discuss to avoid capture and to prey on innocent people who do not have good privacy practices. They are also using a lot of illegal tools and techniques.

Discussing those legal tools and techniques on this site does not give them access to information they could not otherwise find. In fact, we are arming the defenseless so that they can protect themselves from criminals, corporations and ill advised policies which make this world more dangerous without that knowledge.

Like any kind of knowledge, it is not good or evil in and of itself. It can only be used for good or evil at the discretion of the person who has the knowledge. The information on this site can be used for tremendous good to protect you, your family, and your friends from all kinds of physical, financial, mental, and emotional harm. Plus, it’s a lot of fun too.

4 Brittany February 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Hahaha fair enough

5 Rain Wilber January 21, 2012 at 11:10 am

“Trust In God”… but the surveillance camera are the epitome of a lack of trust in God, or trust in your own heart.

6 Patrick Henry February 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

I wonder if it wouldn’t make sense to wear several high power wide-angle infrared leds, powered by a battery pack, around your face (on hat, collar, etc.). It would be interesting to test if that works. Might also be a revenue generator for an entrepreneur.

7 Wiseburn April 20, 2012 at 1:18 am

If they’re not already, these cameras read and store the licenses plates of all vehicles in their view. Police can then search these records to solve crimes. Our police state makes it difficult to freely move around the country. At least in big cities.

8 belinda July 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm

HELP. I believe my husband has a camera in our home watching me everyday. who do I call to come look for it. What would that cost to hire some one to come inspect my home and what do I look for. I believe it has a zoom one night in the dark there was a light flashing on my hand to see what was in my hand and I have seen a flash like the camera was taking pictures of me. I have looked around the bedroom but dont know what im looking for.

9 Caroline Cooper September 15, 2013 at 9:27 am

That is a creepy video and it has nothing to do with stopping littering! Public spaces in cities are quickly becoming places of zero privacy. Makes me want to wear a hajab in public.

10 Fernando carnero February 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Hi Bill,
I have been followed by many Pis now for months.. Nit shre ehat they want but ive also noticed emoyers from my former employer so following me.. All though there has been no physiacal contact i have been followed 24/7 and they seem to knkw everywhere im going.. Any advice on what action i should take?

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