A pair of snooping stories stateside in today’s news. Both involve people in positions of responsibility (you can trust the authorities, remember?) abusing their position in order to perv on women.
The first, a town administrator in Shirley, Massachusetts, has been charged with videoing his employees and co-workers. Kyle Keady (real name) allegedly recorded conversations in his office, bugged his assistant’s pot plant and put a baby monitor in the accountant’s ceiling.
Allegedly, he also placed a camera above a cubicle in the women’s town hall toilets. Nude pictures of an employee were reportedly found, and photographs of his assistant’s underwear, taken in her home, were also found in his possession. Police seized hard drives from Keady’s office and home containing countless "close-up photos of various body parts" of co-workers and visitors to his office.
If true, Keady has committed “troubling violations of privacy against his fellow employees by illegally videotaping and photographing them without their knowledge or consent," amounting to “extremely disturbing violations of his position of authority as town administrator." He has been charged with illegal recording, illegal possession of a
recording device, and video recording a person in a state of nudity,
although this list is set to increase. Keady has pleaded not guilty to
the charges, which promises to lead to an interesting trial. Here is his first appearance in court.
Many, especially women for whom Kyle was supposedly responsible in his work, feel violated: "now we can't even go to the ladies' room without wondering if someone's watching."
These alleged actions are of course made worse by the fact that Keady was in a position of authority (and that the camera did not discriminate between adults and children.)
And it’s not just seedy Keady taking an unhealthy interest in ladies’ powder rooms. In Alabama, Jay Hasting, tourism director at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, has been arrested and charged with videoing a pair of women in the chamber's Scenic Overlook Welcome Center bathroom.
One of the women noticed a partially concealed camera in the bathroom. When it was played back they realised they had been recorded using the facilities. Daphne police charged Hasting with installing an eavesdropping device and two counts of criminal eavesdropping.
Each of these cases involve abuses of responsibility and trust. We are constantly assured that our lords and masters can be trusted with intrusive technology (like body scanners or cctv or covert surveillance equipment) because they are responsible, mature and experienced. These officials demonstrate what such assurances are worth.
These two cases both occurred in the last few days. Evidently acts like these are not as rare are we would like to think. For each one that's caught, how many go undetected? Keady had allegedly been filming for 9 months undetected. He used pen cameras, which are obviously inconspicuous. In the modern age, technology like this is cheap and easy to obtain.
Neither the law nor our notions of privacy have caught up with modern technology. And I note that the charges involve eavesdropping rather than something along the lines of sexual assault (which is perhaps how some of the victims may feel about it).
By Emma Corkill
**UPDATE: a similar story about a lecturer here in the UK perving on female students via a hidden shower camera