The majority of surveillance equipment used today is not the discreet spy equipment used in fiction novels and Cold War stories; rather surveillance technology today is mostly used in the public eye and by law enforcement agencies. The ability for technology today to mimic the eyes and the ears is extremely useful and provides several advantages, as well as some disadvantages—since technology cannot completely replace humans.
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In 2010, cameras are extremely popular in the form of CCTV—or closed circuit television. Some countries—such as Britain—have placed entire cities under surveillance. London is one of the most watched cities in the world, as the majority of it is covered by CCTV cameras. They not only deter crime from occurring, but they also help to capture criminals that continue to commit crimes.
Modern-day spy cameras are extremely advantageous as many of them can be controlled remotely, while others have night vision capabilities. They can be extremely small in size and transmit—or record—high-quality images.
Although cameras can be used for an overall positive effect in many circumstances, there are some drawbacks that accompany them as well. In society, they can cause what some people consider an invasion of privacy. Due to the cameras always being around people, CCTV can play the role of a police officer watching everyone, all the time.
Cameras also have some general functional drawbacks as well. They are generally stationary, so anything being recorded must be in front of them. They can also be rendered dysfunctional if broken or scratched.
Advantages: Wire Taps
Wire taps are generally used by law enforcement agencies, although they can be purchased by individuals. They provide the alternative advantage to cameras in that they provide audio—and often transmit audio live—under circumstances when it is not prudent for an actual person to be listening. Wire taps are generally very small and can be hidden almost anywhere—some are even designed to fit within phones to record telephone conversations.
Disadvantages: Wire Taps
One of the major downsides to wire taps is audibility. As wiretaps contain a microphone that picks up sound—and taking into account that the subject being recorded or listened to normally does not know about the wire tap—the sound will often be variable and sometimes inaudible, as people regularly move around a given space. Like cameras, wire taps also provide the significant problem of privacy invasion when used maliciously.
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