The Current

Curbing Voyeurism: Peeping Toms go high tech but not undetected

A string of convictions for voyeurism in British Columbia is raising new questions on how to protect privacy when intrusive technology is so small, so inexpensive and so hard to stop. Today we explore the issue of fighting back voyeurism.
A string of convictions on charges of voyeurism has some BC residents wondering if they're ever truly alone. As new technology makes peeping easier to do and harder to detect, what can be done? (Jeffrey Cuvilier, Flickr cc)

A string of high-profile voyeurism cases have been in the news in British Columbia. In addition to ones we just heard reported, three other convicted men are set to appear in court this month. The cases are drawing attention to the way technology is helping modern-day peeping Toms. The easy availability of relatively cheap, very tiny, hidden cameras has made it easier to watch people and harder to tell if you're being watched.

At Spyzone, a store in Vancouver that specializes in monitoring and security, you can find a camera that will fit just about anywhere. The store also sells tools that will detect cameras and the radio frequencies on which they transmit. While there are perfectly legitimate uses for these products, they can be put to nefarious use... sometimes to spy on women and girls, often in bathrooms, change rooms and bedrooms.

Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer says it's time to take the problem of voyeurism more seriously. She is the Executive Director of Women Against Violence Against Women Rapce Crisis Centre in Vancouver.

Finding the perpetrators who hide behind technology can be a challenge.

Peter Collins is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Forensic Psychiatrist in the Complex Mental Illness Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He was in Toronto. 

Technology didn't create the peeping tom, but it is allowing voyeurs to be more devious and creative.

The Age of the Drone

Doc Zone

6 years ago
There’s a revolution happening and it’s overhead. The drones are coming. From Amazon to Google, the government and your neighbours, everyone is embracing the drone. The big question is: who gets to use them, and how? 45:11
​ Mark Goodman is a former Futurist-in-Residence for the FBI who looked at how criminal minds would put new technology to use. You may have heard our conversation on the program last week, about his new book, "Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It". He mentioned that case of drone voyeurism in Seattle using drone technology this way is enough of a concern that just last week, the Arkansas Legislature voted to add drones to the state's voyeurism law.

Avner Levin is the Director of the Privacy and Cyber Crime Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto. 

What do you think — what's the best way to combat voyeurs, when they have access to such sophisticated technology?

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or post on Facebook. Or email us through our website. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant, Marc Apollonio and Vancouver Network Producer, Anne Penman. 


♦ Senate Oks adding drones to anti-voyeurism law - The Associated Press

♦ Hidden-camera voyeurism on the rise in B.C. - The Province