Home security: turning homeowners into morons

Schnikes. If one more person complains to me about the legal activity they have picked up and reviewed on their home security systems, I am going to scream. I have learned one very important thing from the many useless conversations I have participated in regarding the analysis of conversations unknowingly recorded from passersby: home security systems are turning homeowners into morons. Gossiping morons.

Home security systems are designed to record activities to be used as evidence should something nefarious take place. Any legal activity recorded is to be ignored and destroyed. Unfortunately what I am witnessing is far from that with homeowners. People are complaining to me (and sharing with me) the private information they recorded when people were on or near their property, private information that is not illegal. I only make the situation worse by pointing out that what people say to others or to themselves is none of their business if it is legal. If they are not responsible enough and respectful enough of others to abide by this rule then they are not mature enough to handle potentially sensitive data.

I am sure home security systems do a great deal of good. Unfortunately I am confident they are also doing a great deal of bad to communities.

Handling video surveillance data (while NOT being a complete whacka-doodie)

Video surveillance in and around homes and businesses, whether we like it or not, is the norm now.  True IT professionals are trained in handling all kinds of data and the handling of the data involves very specific rules focusing on integrity, confidentiality, local and federal laws and respect for others.

If you are considering the installation of video surveillance in or around your home or business, know that you will now be the keeper of potentially sensitive data.  If you do not make a conscious effort to treat the data with care, then expect to lose the trust and respect of anyone coming in contact with you or the surveillance equipment.

Keep the following in mind when reviewing the data from surveillance equipment you have installed:

  • Where is the data stored? If it is stored in a free “cloud” then consider the data NOT private and some or all the data at some point may be viewed and/or sold to third parties without your knowledge.
  • How is the data protected? If you “log in” to something to view the data then take extra care in forming complex passwords that change frequently.
  • Avoid sharing the data with anyone unless activity captured is illegal activity (if it is illegal, share the data with law enforcement).
  • Avoid commenting on activity captured.
  • Delete stored data on a regular basis, I recommend deleting data once every 4 months.  This gives a wide enough range should law enforcement ask for assistance from the community in any investigations involving areas near the surveillance equipment.
  • If you capture something memorable (and legal) that you would like to share with the public, feel free to share it however you like after first getting the permission from all humans present in the data captured.

Over the weekend I listened to a homeowner mock a person delivering a package to his front porch.  The homeowner played the recorded surveillance footage of the mundane event for everyone at the dinner table and ridiculed the delivery person for several things (none of which were illegal).  I could not help but wonder the horrid things they would say about myself if I were to ever visit his home.  The homeowner initially had installed the equipment for home security, but the setup has now morphed into disrespecting members of his community in public forums.  This event was a reminder to me that our society is flooded with fun gadgets but the security and ethics training necessary to properly handle the data being captured is absent.

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