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Big Brother watching you camp
April 7, 2010 6:06 AM   Subscribe

US Forest Service admits putting surveillance cameras on public lands. Apparently this has been going on for awhile.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy (83 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Smokey the Bear is going all Bush II on forest fire starters...
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:13 AM on April 7, 2010


I wonder who they're trying to catch? Bootleggers or poachers maybe?
posted by ghharr at 6:18 AM on April 7, 2010


I've heard of people growing pot way out in the woods on public land. If you grow it on private land, a) it's easy to find out whose it is, and b) the land can be seized if you get caught. Maybe that's what they're trying to catch. Regardless, cameras in the woods are a terrible idea.
posted by echo target at 6:24 AM on April 7, 2010


Wow, those poor fuckers at the Forest Service have hours upon hours of video of me fucking their trees.
posted by NoMich at 6:24 AM on April 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Nor pic-a-nic baskets.
posted by Jofus at 6:27 AM on April 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


I find it hard to believe the camera was stationed near a marked campground for pot farmers. I mean people growing large amounts of drugs don't generally don't do a short distance from a marked campground since they tend to prefer their privacy.
posted by Sargas at 6:27 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


At some point, this will devolve into a yet more hideous reality television. Mantracker, without the mantracker. Whiny chumps lost in the woods. "The Blair Which Way Do We Go? Show"
posted by umberto at 6:30 AM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I immediately thought about the War on Drugs. I, also, had heard about people growing pot in the woods-- but not in family camp grounds. If they are watching camp grounds, Have they also installed cameras in public restrooms? Because that's another place where lots of shady stuff goes on.

If I take my 10 year old daughter camping and no one is around, I like to imagine that we are free from prying eyes-- free to pee, to pick our noses, to be goofy. I see know I was foolish to expect any privacy anywhere except inside my own home.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:30 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, um, well, I want my video back, Forest Service.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:31 AM on April 7, 2010


Yeah, I thought someone was watching us do it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 AM on April 7, 2010


I mean people growing large amounts of drugs don't generally don't do a short distance from a marked campground since they tend to prefer their privacy.

Yeah, but the person who has an old refrigerator to dump usually doesn't like to carry it far.
posted by three blind mice at 6:32 AM on April 7, 2010


OK, so if the forest service doesn't want to discuss an 'ongoing investigation', they should still be willing to disclose their handling and retention policies, the criteria used for deployment.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:32 AM on April 7, 2010


I keep thinking about picking up some of those high-powered lasers, the ones that eat batteries like Sweettarts. Bet I could have some fun with the CCDs on those puppies.
posted by adipocere at 6:33 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I could use a good surveillance camera, come to think of it. What is the law on found random unmarked crap in the woods?
posted by Bovine Love at 6:35 AM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hmm, I could use a good surveillance camera, come to think of it. What is the law on found random unmarked crap in the woods?

Yeah, and couldn't this guy have said "fuck you, prove it's yours"? I mean, who takes orders from the friggin' US FORESTRY SERVICE? Eat a dick, Ranger Rick.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:37 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow, $500? Time to go camping! (and hunting)
posted by graventy at 6:42 AM on April 7, 2010


Maybe now we can finally discover how all that porn gets out there.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:44 AM on April 7, 2010 [28 favorites]


There is a higher level of privacy expectation in the forest than on say a public street. People are not generally getting dressed and undressed on the street but that is common while camping. Do they have images of children getting undressed? I say prosecute ranger rick for child pornography. ;)
posted by caddis at 6:44 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Will this help catch people who start forest fires?
posted by anniecat at 6:46 AM on April 7, 2010


The park service should try this before all of the ancient petroglyphs end up in foreign collections (which is only slightly better than being over written by names of tourists).
posted by Brian B. at 6:47 AM on April 7, 2010


Stop being so paranoid. This is a simple scientific experiment to settle, once and for all, the question "Does the bear shit in the woods?" As a bonus, they intend to do some market research to find out what kind of toilet paper bears prefer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:53 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


What these premises said about policies and criterion. If the campsite in question has a long history of people coming back and finding their tents riffled through and half of their stuff missing, or regular evidence of field dressing of game well out of hunting season then this makes a certain amount of sense. It's not like they have the funding to pay a guy to stand around in the woods and be vigilant.

They really could have done a better job of not making it sound like a thumb drive full of movies of teenagers making out in the woods is replacing the Smokey the Bear hat as the iconic symbol of forest ranger though.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:58 AM on April 7, 2010


All watched over by machines of loving grace.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:58 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I am supposed to believe them when they super dooper promise the census results won't be shared with other government agencies? I hate to be too paranoid, because at some point it becomes ridiculous, but if government agencies have a shitty track record with privacy and already break laws designed to protect it, how on earth can I have any confidence in their promise that the personal information I provide is protected? Yes, I know it's stuff they can get - and already have, just like any corporation with whom I've done business. /end rant
posted by bunnycup at 6:59 AM on April 7, 2010


You know what would be awesome? A Google map application that tracks where people find these things. I bet then you'd get some "comments" from the Forest Service.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:06 AM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Money's tight. Maybe they're just filming a sequel to The Most Dangerous Game on the cheap?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:08 AM on April 7, 2010


This is a simple scientific experiment to settle, once and for all, the question "Does the bear shit in the woods?"

No, that has been documented many times. This research is to determine whether falling trees make a sound when no one is there. This is the first stage of the research, designed to establish that trees do fall when no one is there. The next stage replaces the current $500 cameras with $1000 cameras that record audio.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:13 AM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dopers, toxic waste dumpers and timber thieves are major concerns. It says so right in the article.
posted by warbaby at 7:32 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Finally, we will be able to answer that question, if a tree falls in the wilderness...
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:42 AM on April 7, 2010


I just hope they have a bunch of cameras in Maine, because there is some scary-ass shit going on up in those woods that somebody needs to get on tape: buried space alien ships that make your gums bleed, invisible domes giving rise to tinpot dictators, freaky bear monsters that eat little girls, homicidal clown-spiders in the sewers. and I don't know what-all.

Did I mention the vampires?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:58 AM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's the USFS way to get around having Chatroulette blocked by their own IT staff. I will be out there masturbating furiously, once I get my Adventure Pass and a big furry Bobcat suit!
posted by Xoebe at 7:59 AM on April 7, 2010


I just hope they have a bunch of cameras in Maine, because there is some scary-ass shit going on up in those woods that somebody needs to get on tape

Don't leave out the rest of New England.

*bored agent reads comic while monitors display various security feeds: "Mi-Go mining operation", "Roving Yithian Anthropologist Cam", "Indescribable Horror"*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:06 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]



This is BIGGER than you think.

What they are trying to do is prove, conclusively, the tree DOES make a sound when it falls in the woods without anyone else around to hear it.

Wait, there is audio on these right? Or would it be more applicable if they... um....



Shit.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:06 AM on April 7, 2010


Creepy as fuck. Even in 1984 they only put microphones in parks, not cameras.
posted by delmoi at 8:15 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]



There is a higher level of privacy expectation in the forest than on say a public street.


Is there really? If it's really public and freely accessible land, I don't think anyone could reasonably expect a higher level of privacy. I think there may be a different range of acceptable behaviors, for example, dressing oneself, or pissing, or carrying a firearm, that may not fly on a public street. One may indeed find more privacy. But to expect more privacy may be a mistaken expectation.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:19 AM on April 7, 2010


Stop being so paranoid. This is a simple scientific experiment to settle, once and for all, the question "Does the bear shit in the woods?"

Okay this totally reminded me of those Charmin toilet paper commercials with animated bears. Like who thought of those? What was the pitch? "Not only does a bear shit in the woods, he wipes his ass with Charmin!"
posted by delmoi at 8:22 AM on April 7, 2010


I mean, who takes orders from the friggin' US FORESTRY SERVICE?

You do know that they're Federal agents, right? In addition to the silly hats, they also have guns.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:23 AM on April 7, 2010


It's time for the Surveillance Camera Players to go camping!
posted by homunculus at 8:24 AM on April 7, 2010


I think they're also keen to establish once and for all if Yogi is actually smarter than the average bear.
posted by panboi at 8:27 AM on April 7, 2010


Hmmm...you know, for some reason this does not bother me. The Forest Service does not have enough staff or people to monitor the populated areas of public lands like campgrounds and as the article states, they have viable set of reasons for monitoring certain areas for toxic waste dumpers, pot growers and poaching. So tell me, what alternative is there for them to carry out their functions without more staff and larger outlay of funds which seem to be kind of scarce?

I agree that it could have been done better and more transparently but seriously, I am not sure how you can monitor millions of acres and provide services to millions of tourists/hikers/campers too with their size of staff budget.
posted by jadepearl at 8:28 AM on April 7, 2010


Honestly, I'd be amazed that the Forest Service didn't utilize cams. I mean, talk about an obvious application of technology
posted by Thorzdad at 8:31 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jadepearl: It's hard to imagine people could really bring in that much toxic waste. As far as the rest, it seems like national parks got along fine without surveillance for decades. So while those things are problems, are they really that big of a problem?
posted by delmoi at 8:31 AM on April 7, 2010


I've heard of people growing pot way out in the woods on public land. If you grow it on private land, a) it's easy to find out whose it is, and b) the land can be seized if you get caught. Maybe that's what they're trying to catch.

We own a big, big chunk of private land (in Maine, actually). A couple of years ago my mom was walking the boundary with a forester, and discovered that someone has planted a pretty huge pot garden out on the back boundary of our land. The cops said it was pretty common - private land like ours is pretty much unwatched, and its a lot harder to get caught. I'd be surprised if people are doing it on public land. Finding out of the way plots of private land like ours is, I'd guess, much safer.
posted by anastasiav at 8:43 AM on April 7, 2010


Every time a tweaker dumps his by products its toxic waste. The forest service does not have the money to clean these sites as it requires hazmat crews so they just gps them. There are thousands, if not tens of thpusands, of hazmat sites on forest service land. Whole streams can be poisoned by one site. I say tape em...
posted by fshgrl at 8:46 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's time for the Surveillance Camera Players to go camping!

Yeah, there is a lot of potential for awesome performance art here; I'm thinking that a full armor and weapons appropriate medieval battle with twenty or thirty people moving in and out of frame would be fun to have going on at one camera, while at the same time, at a different location some kind Bigfoot killing a bunch of campers footage could be arranged.

At the very least, you'd know that you caused some very confused conversations in the Forestry Service offices to take place.
posted by quin at 8:46 AM on April 7, 2010


So tell me, what alternative is there for them to carry out their functions without more staff and larger outlay of funds which seem to be kind of scarce?

I'm not sure I like the idea of "it was too expensive to respect your privacy" being a valid excuse for acting unethically.
posted by generichuman at 8:49 AM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Now where's that Bigfoot costume I made for Halloween a few years back?
posted by esome at 8:56 AM on April 7, 2010


I say prosecute ranger rick for child pornography. ;)

Smokey the PedoBear?
posted by Tenuki at 9:23 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really surprised the camera was unmarked. The Feds are pretty anal retentive about asset management. I would have expected a stamped aluminum plate with multiple serials and warnings about theft, etc.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:24 AM on April 7, 2010


Where I live (rural norcal), your average tourist or even local is too freaked out by cartel activity to go too far away from the parking lot anyway. We get reports of one or two shootings a year, which is just over my "camp on the beach" threshold, personally.

And if it's not paranoid pot tenders, it's law enforcement...when I first moved here in 2004 I went camping at a remote lake and woke up at 1 a.m. To the noise of a helicopter hovering at about 150ft., lighting up my tent with their big ol spotlight like they had found their man. Honestly, they held the light there for about 5 minutes.

So yeah, cameras suck, but at the same time, it's not like nothing's going down out there. If somebody's dumping chemicals into the water or hoarding weaponry on public land, by all means film away. There's certainly not gonna be a town hall where woods-creeps start sobbing and agree to be more responsible.
posted by circular at 9:36 AM on April 7, 2010


i was just at a forest preserve last night ... and saw where someone had used a wetland as a private dumping ground. i wished they had that camera there.
posted by lester at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2010


I know, I know, I know it's just a joke, but the anal part of me has to point out that if a camera and mic are there to record it, those count as an observer, so it's not a way around the tree falling in the woods koan and I really need to shut up now
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2010


but the anal part of me has to point out that if a camera

Phew, for a second there I thought that was gonna be a colonoscopy joke.
posted by circular at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2010


If somebody's dumping chemicals into the water or hoarding weaponry on public land, by all means film away.

But the necessary result is that they tape everyone, not just the people dumping chemicals or hoarding weaponry. We take away an awful lot of rights from people who commit crimes, often including the rights to privacy, to privacy of their own body and bodily functions, the right to vote, etc. Now you want to use pre-emptive privacy-stripping as well?

There are valid arguments to be made about the levels of expectation of privacy on public land. I hate the idea of a CC-monitored society, and I don't think the argument that there might be increased public safety from it flies. I think it makes it easier to catch criminals and perhaps cheaper to prosecute them, but doesn't prevent much crime. I'm willing to be proven wrong, though.

Personally, if I had to choose between it being harder to catch drug growers and keeping my own personal privacy from being videotaped every moment of my life, I'd rather keep my privacy.
posted by bunnycup at 10:18 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am an archaeologist and I have worked with Forest Service archaeologists in the past. These cameras have been used successfully on more than one occasion to nap people who have looted archaeological sites. I know of situations when such investigations have been very productive because they create a domino effect with networks of looters and illegal collectors getting outed. Also, in many parts of the country looting goes hand-in-hand with other illegal activity such as meth.

If I had to guess, since it is a logistical challenge to post cameras in the wilderness and review the video, I suspect they are pretty discriminating about where the cameras are located. I am frequently someone concerned about an increasing surveillance society and its privacy implications, but in this case what I do know about it leads me to believe there are many well justified uses for this program.
posted by Tallguy at 10:23 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's also a family anecdote wherein my bro-in-law was hiking and intercepted by bad-but-polite growers with guns. His claim is that they mentioned seeing him on video on his way toward their area. Made me wonder if that's very common (my hunch is no, but no idea, really)
posted by circular at 10:27 AM on April 7, 2010


So if I find something that's clearly not mine, I can just take it?

I just wanted to be clear on that.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2010


Of course one can question whether there is a legitimate reason for the cameras, but I think most would agree that there is. But:

- Who decides what is legitimate? What are the guidelines?
- How long is the camera deployed?
- How long is the data kept?
- Who reviews the data?
- When reviewed, is it looking for specific criminal acts, or will any criminal act do? Public urination, what?
- Is the person reviewing it also an investigator? Or do they employ a screener?
- How is the 'unnecessary' data removed and destroyed?
- What is the effectiveness of the program? To justify the cost and invasion of privacy (whether or not that invasion is past legal), it should have to show tangible results.

These kind of questions are really important if you are going to be going about secretly conducting surveillance of people. These questions are not answered, and clearly the authorities had not intention of even owning up to the program, let alone running it responsibly.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:59 AM on April 7, 2010


- What is the effectiveness of the program? To justify the cost and invasion of privacy (whether or not that invasion is past legal), it should have to show tangible results.

I would add, what type of harm is allegedly being prevented by use of the cameras and is there good evidence that the cameras actually prevent the harm?

I am opposed to surveillance because I have never seen good evidence that it generally prevents harm. By nature, it represents an after-the-fact enforcement measure. Put differently, when I worked in an office building there were cameras in the elavators. I didn't object to this because someone was monitoring them, live, in effort to prevent assault, sexual assault, b&e and so forth. Ostensibly a perpetrator would be caught prior to or during a criminal activity, and stopped from doing it. I see this is very distinguishable from a case where all are monitored and results reviewed later for use merely as evidence in criminal proceedings. I don't think the harm avoided justifies the privacy invasion inflicted, inasmuch as it is inflicted without distinction on the innocent bystander and the (potentially) guilty criminal.
posted by bunnycup at 11:06 AM on April 7, 2010


>because I have never seen good evidence that it generally prevents harm

I hate to look like the pro-surveillance person here (I'm generally not) but I'm wondering what type of evidence you would accept...?

For example:

Generally, the data suggest that CCTV video surveillance is successful in reducing and preventing crimes and is helpful in prosecuting individuals caught in the act of committing a crime.


From a Canadian source.
posted by circular at 11:28 AM on April 7, 2010


BTW, I'm guessing the "evidence" pool has only become more muddy since that was written in 1997...my concern isn't the "crime prevention" angle so much as the "easily abusable" angle.
posted by circular at 11:30 AM on April 7, 2010


From a Canadian source.

The California Research Bureau in Sacramento is a Canadian source? Because the quote you produced wasn't from the small "Public Video Surveillance in Other Countries" section...

Anyway, I think the comparison to urban CCTV is a bit off-base, since while, yes, there are the two counterposed arguments for greater privacy vs. crime prevention, a bunch of trees have zero expectations of privacy. We don't occupy our forests the way we do our city streets.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:40 AM on April 7, 2010


Circular, my distinction is in the comparison to my elevator example. I don't get the impression that these forest cameras are (a) monitored live, and (b) monitored live from a distance where law enforcement could reasonably arrive to stop a crime prior to completion. Now, to be crystal clear, I do not have any evidence either way - but if I think of some of the vast sizes of national forests, and the limited manpower, my gut instinct tells me that these are reviewed after the fact for use in prosecution. I don't see how evidence-after-the-fact can prevent a crime that has already taken place, unless you want to argue in favor of deterrence. For example, from the link you provided:

"During this time period, tapes are reviewed for evidence of criminal or suspicious activity. If an original tape contains potentially probative evidence in criminal or civil litigation, it is retained until a final judgment has been entered and all appeals have been exhausted in that case. If the tapes contain no potential probative evidence, they are discarded or reused."

As an example of the distinction between evidence-gathering, and real, individual crime-prevention. Obviously I am responding very quickly, so I haven't absorbed your entire link in detail - I am trying to jump to parts that seem particularly relevant to the questions I have. But, the article you linked isn't as strongly supportive of surveillance as you indicated. Some examples:

(Baltimore) "As part of the grant, crime statistics are being gathered to determine the impact of the project on the amount and types of crime occurring in the project area. Factors such as criminal displacement, location of crimes, and arrests within the project are to be considered. At the time of this writing, no useful data has been published."

(Newark) "No official crime-related data measuring the effectiveness of the system has been kept since the system was installed."

(Virginia Beach) "The system has provided video evidence for criminal prosecution, has been used to monitor narcotics investigations, track and apprehend suspects, and monitor vehicular and pedestrian foot traffic. "According to a police spokesperson, they have made hundreds of observations that have led to arrests." With respect to this city, note that they seem to be using a combo of general public surveillance and target surveillance of criminal activity, what I'll colloquially call 'stakeouts of known suspects'. I don't think the statistics resulting from stakeouts of known suspects are probative on the efficacy of general public surveillance, do you? They are apples and oranges.

(Memphis) "According to Memphis police, crime has decreased 10 percent in the downtown area where the cameras are located since the program was initiated." Correlation does not equal causation - crime is down, in general. Also, your link says that the cameras were installed in 1996, and cops say crime has decreased 10 percent since. Wikipedia says that a record-low decade of crime ENDED in 2004, with Memphis becoming the 4th most dangers 500k+ city in the US in 2005. Not exactly a stunning recommendation of the efficacy of security cameras, is it?

The city-by-city analysis goes on, and it shows decreases in some minor crimes (loitering), increased sense of public safety in some places (not Memphis, I'll tell you, having lived there in 2008-2009). There is certainly widespread support from law enforcement agents, but I don't think that's good, unbiased evidence of efficacy - it makes their jobs easier, and they generally want to cross the line of privacy protections. There's anecdotal evidence of a reduction in gangbangers and prostitutes hanging around. That's good, I guess. I wouldn't hang around in an area where I was being watched and videotaped all the time, either, if I could help it.

So, Circular, I am not sure I accept the evidence of that article as a support that CCTV reduces crime. It seems to me that there's a big distinction between live surveillance, and after-the-fact evidentiary (is that a word?) surveillance. Again, I want to be clear that I have not been able to review the entire link, it is a LOT of information. If you have a specific section that you feel I am missing, obviously I am really into this subject and would love to check it out.
posted by bunnycup at 11:50 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a huge fan of civil liberties, but I have zero expectation of privacy in a public park. I'm kind of surprised so many people are bothered by this.
posted by willnot at 11:55 AM on April 7, 2010


I guess to summarize my clearly tl;dr comment above, I think there is not great evidence supporting the efficacy of these cameras in crime prevention. I think the public is asked to swallow the idea mostly on faith, and I think the statistics don't back it up. If the CCTV systems were very narrowly tailored, rather than general surveillance, and if they were actually effective at stopping crime, I might see the value in the loss of privacy. But I don't think those circumstances exist, and so I see no value in the trade.
posted by bunnycup at 11:57 AM on April 7, 2010


>my gut instinct tells me that these are reviewed after the fact for use in prosecution.

They're certainly not very forthcoming on this subject, are they? That's frustrating.

>I don't see how evidence-after-the-fact can prevent a crime that has already taken place, unless you want to argue in favor of deterrence.

One thing we know about deterrence is that it scales up dramatically and is even used in international politics. It also scales down dramatically and is used by pet owners every day :-)

I don't think dismissing the deterrent effect outright is the right way to go...and it's not like deterrence is primarily a guerrilla technique used by secretive government agencies. It's human instinct.

But how do you prove that something prevented an unknown person from committing an unknown crime, anyway? Good luck gathering that evidence.
posted by circular at 12:35 PM on April 7, 2010


I recall an article from AP about Mexican cartels having large tracts and farms in national forests and found a simple article here

Meth labs produce a lot of toxic waste in even residential areas

Money that could be spent elsewhere is being spent on public land dumping clean up

I am not a big fan of surveillance society either but really, you should be more freaked out about the GPS tracking in your cell phone
posted by jadepearl at 12:38 PM on April 7, 2010


I am not a big fan of surveillance society either but really, you should be more freaked out about the GPS tracking in your cell phone

I am not as freaked out, since I can opt out by either not having a cell phone, not having a GPS-enabled cell phone, or turning off the GPS on my cell phone (which I have done). I cannot reasonably opt out of visiting many public facilities, although I can opt out of visiting public parks and others. However, because public tax dollars support the space I feel constitutional protections should prevent my being indiscriminately videotaped in the guise of an unproven, general, vague sense of crime prosecution.
posted by bunnycup at 12:55 PM on April 7, 2010


It's so cute that you Americans are still shocked by this.

Regards,
Someone in a British Colony.
posted by Jimbob at 1:24 PM on April 7, 2010


It's so cute that you Americans are still shocked by this.

Cute in a "we're so cool we got total surveillance first" sort of way, or cute in a "actually I'm being terribly sarcastic in an attempt to shield my depressive thoughts on the subject" sort of way?
posted by circular at 2:01 PM on April 7, 2010


They should at least put up signs that tell us that an area is under surveillance. Also, I suppose State and National parks are doing the same thing.
posted by Rashomon at 2:08 PM on April 7, 2010


Remind me to wear clothes the next time I go hiking nude in the wilderness.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


ZenMasterThis, if you can figure out how to wear clothes while you hike nude, you truly will be a zen master. Or at least, I will be impressed.
posted by bunnycup at 2:32 PM on April 7, 2010


or cute in a "actually I'm being terribly sarcastic in an attempt to shield my depressive thoughts on the subject"

Yep. That one.
posted by Jimbob at 4:46 PM on April 7, 2010


I'm a huge fan of civil liberties, but I have zero expectation of privacy in a public park. I'm kind of surprised so many people are bothered by this.

Clearly you have never, you know, *been* to the park before. It's where people *cough-Mefites-cough* typically go in order to perform their private activities, including: shitting; fornication; wind-drying scrotums; checking out other chicks while their girlfriends aren't looking; being complete assholes; and using, growing, dealing, distributing and manufacturing things that look like drugs, but really aren't.

I mean, sure, it's totally out in the open, and anybody could walk by at any time and see you do whatever you're doing, but it's really our second-to-last bastion of privacy. Our last bastion being our anonymity on the internet.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


So if I find something that's clearly not mine, I can just take it? posted by humboldt32

I wouldn't suggest that in the woods. A person would be LUCKY if the camera belonged to the USFS; as a few already mentioned, the weed growers are using cameras in the woods too.

Or, as said to me at 16 yo when I curiously ventured into a forestry land grow-op by a guy with a handkerchief over his mouth and a shotgun over his shoulder as he stepped out from what suddenly was a blind, "That's a good way to get your ass shot off."
posted by _paegan_ at 11:50 PM on April 7, 2010


Where do I sign up for the cam feed, and do they take Paypal? What are the best ones?

I have very mixed feelings about this. I loath the idea that capitalist schmucks are dumping toxic waste into the forests. I don't like the thought of people stealing trees for lumber much, either. But, other than the tweekers, who can haul toxic waste in, or logs out, without being spotted on those more public places known as "roads"?
posted by Goofyy at 2:51 AM on April 8, 2010


bunnycup: I just throw them over my shoulder.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:21 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, if I had to choose between it being harder to catch drug growers and keeping my own personal privacy from being videotaped every moment of my life, I'd rather keep my privacy.

I'm guessing you've never lived in CA or anywhere else where a hike in the woods is always potentially going to end in a stand off. In 10 years of living there I've had a shotgun pointed at me a half dozen times by people I'm not sure are a) sober or b) over the age of 12. Cars get torched, tweakers frequent public campgrounds, illegal pot growers just trash the shit out of places (hello dirty toilet paper floating down river!) and there are fucking booby traps. Booby traps!!! I've found them and I was NOT amused. Privacy is nice in theory, but if you're frolicking around these woods, someone is likely watching you already. And possibly setting a trip wire.
posted by fshgrl at 4:06 AM on April 10, 2010


fshgrl: FTA, the cameras were in South Carolina, not California.
posted by bunnycup at 5:56 AM on April 10, 2010


Well I'm sure it's not a problem unique to CA, any remote area is going to have the same issue these days. If your experience of parks is well regulated places like Yosemite or well frequented places that are family oriented then I don't think that people understand the scale of the problem.
posted by fshgrl at 2:19 PM on April 10, 2010


I've been in lots of remote forests - northern Maine, PA, North Carolina, Adirondacks. I've never been accosted by these apocryphal illegal drug growers. I don't at all disbelieve you that you have, but you go from having witnessed these problems in California, to averring that they are widespread. Your anecdote doesn't mirror my experience in other places. Thus, I have a hard time believing that your (alleged) California problems dictate a South Carolina - or elsewhere - response. And again, I do refer back to my distinctions between evidentiary use and actual crime-prevention.
posted by bunnycup at 7:36 PM on April 10, 2010


(Let me clarify, because I think my comment is unclear, fshgrl, I am not casting any aspersion on you. I respect your opinion, but my opinions are based on my experiences, and my opinion about what protections against over-extended law enforcement activities the constitution grants, and what the evidence I have read shows. Again, respect your right to opine differently.)
posted by bunnycup at 7:40 PM on April 10, 2010


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