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New creepy trend I just discovered in the New York subway: Tourists with a chest-mounted Gopro-sized camera. Wide angle, no way of knowing whether it’s currently recording or not.
This entry was edited (2 months ago)

But what's the difference between this and wandering into the field of a tourist's camera? Arguably the chest mounted GoPro is a protective device. At the end of the day, how much privacy can one reasonably expect when out in public?

I already described two problems with it: wide angle and I was unable to figure out if it was actually recording.

Another problem is that it didn't require any active behavior from the person. When someone takes a picture or shoots a video with their device in their hand, you can guess both the current recording status and the intended angle from the person's focus. In this case the person can physically look elsewhere while their camera is recording in front of them which is unsettling.

Another problem is that I can't be sure the person is actually a tourist because of the conspicuousness of the setup. The chest strap was worn under a jacket that was open just to let the lens poke out. Since it can be used to stealthily monitor people, I can't be completely convinced the person isn't actually a law enforcement officer or worse. It just made me so uncomfortable I actually gave up my subway seat not to be in the camera field of vision.

I totally understand the discomfort, and the uncertainty. But used to London as I am (one of the most CCTV-infested cities in the world), I'd argue that (1) that it's not necessarily "reasonable" to expect not to be observed and/or recorded when out in public, and (2) Google* is probably as much of a problem as individuals' cameras.

As for GoPros and other similar action cams, they're not known for long battery life. I would guess that these would typically be used by the person were they to hire a bicycle or walk through a dangerous neighbourhood rather than record what is already publicly observable on the subway. But I'm not familiar with the craziness of NYC :)


About the battery life, it would have been a good point if they didn't also wear a full backpack as tourists tend to do. The final detail is the travel locks on the backpack zippers. So yes, a paranoid tourist is indistinguishable from a state surveillance field agent.

And I personally am used to fixed surveillance cameras, but not to people with chest cameras.

Gig economy drives this I believe - people struggling to be competitive making money on YouTube etc. But, from a privacy perspective, there is no expectation of privacy in public space is there?

Oh no, you can have expectations of privacy in the public space. They are rarely met but sometimes they are, like the obligation of asking for consent, blurring faces and/or license plates when filming/photographing in public places.

What made you think you didn't have any privacy rights in public spaces?

It is a very grey area. Let's say you are at the beach and someone else is snapping pics of their party and good time. You are in the pics but not the subject. Those taking the pics are not going to scour the beach and ask for permission and PII and contact info from everyone on the beach. The same is true for license plates, VIN numbers, etc that are visible in pics of cars parked nearby. Now there are cases where intent and action is meant to slander, defame, do facial recognition, etc. and in some cases unintentional video of a humorous event by someone the videographer does not know in the public space yet it shows up on YouTube and goes viral. Perhaps the subject was playing hooky from work and ends up getting fired yet that was not the intent of the videographer. Some relevant links re online and offline public privacy expectations:

It's true, but the fact it is a gray area means it isn't a black area and that you can have some expectation of privacy even in public spaces.

For me, because I have no control over who photographs me or takes video of me when i am in a public space, I have no expectation that will not occur. This is aside from malicious activities.

Me neither but that's a rather narrow definition of privacy. Regardless of whether someone will actually take a picture or a video of me, I just am uncomfortable when a lens is unexpectedly pointed at me for an extended period of time.

Yes me too and in that case I would leave unless I was at a concert or something