Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Personal spy gear: Is it ethical? Is it legal?

These days, if you want to watch over your house, your kids or your significant other, there's a whole world of high-tech security devices out there you can use, in forms you may not have even imagined.

There are tiny GPS data loggers you can slip into someone's car or backpack to learn where they're going. There are audio recorders the size of flash drives that can listen in and preserve the conversations of others nearby. And there are surveillance cams in a whole assortment of motion-activated disguises, including facial tissue dispensers, alarm clocks, outdoor home electrical boxes, bird feeders and even soft, furry teddy bears.

But while it's easy to find and buy surveillance devices, is it legal and/or ethical to use them? Is it okay if you use them to watch over strangers? Is it reasonable to use them to watch and hear family members and loved ones?

The answers can sometimes be murky.


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