Sydney Eatz and her friend, computer programmer Richard Trus, launched a website Monday that allows the public to flag hidden cameras spotted in washrooms and change rooms.
TheySaid.org allows users to submit anonymous tips about peeping Toms, hoping that if there are enough complaints about a particular business, others will be warned to steer clear of the establishment and the police will be forced to investigate.
It’s a personal mission for Eatz, who said she was a victim of upskirting on the floor at a Google-sponsored event two years ago — and didn’t know it until she found a video of herself online.
“It was really horrible,” said Eatz. “I was really depressed and traumatized.”
Google chose not to comment to Global News on the alleged incident.
Eatz and Trus then began a mission to see how many people across the city may have been victims of upskirting and a quick search online gave them an idea.
“When you search on Google for Toronto hidden camera porn, you will find millions of videos. When you click on the results for Google, it will take you to porn sites and you will see places you recognize in Toronto,” said Trus. “We thought, oh my gosh, these people have no clue that they are basically being assaulted by someone and these repeat offenders are getting away with it.”
“It’s upsetting that a lot of these people can’t go to public washrooms or unisex washrooms and feel safe and have to check for cameras all the time,” said Eatz.
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Hans School, president of SpyTech, told Global News that part of the problem is that cameras are getting smaller and record in better quality. It’s easy enough to even purchase cameras that look like wall outlets online, he said, or you can make your own at home, sticking a small camera behind fake wall socket.
That’s exactly what happened at a Starbucks at the intersection of Yonge and King streets in downtown Toronto. When the coffee company got into hot water after it failed to notify the public right away that a wall-socket camera had been discovered under their bathroom sink, facing the toilet.
Eatz and Trus hope that their website gains enough traction to try and curb secret recordings in public washrooms.
“If nobody stops hidden camera porn, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to start videos of people that you know,” said Trus. “Sisters, mothers, aunts, anyone who has used a public washroom.”
“It’s not until it happens to you,” Eatz said. “Then you realize this is a big issue and needs to be tackled right away.”