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New camera technology, current laws make fight against peeping Toms difficult: experts

Hidden camera technology tough to combat for upskirting victims
WATCH ABOVE: Tech experts say advancements in camera technology are making it easier for peeping Toms to record victims. Kamil Karamali reports.

Hans School lays out several seemingly household items on the front counter of his Yonge Street store, Spy Tech spy shop.

Among them a pen, a pair of glasses and a coffee cup.

All of them are also hidden cameras.

“The sale of these type of electronic products are always going up,” said School.

“Because as the price goes down more and more people are buying these things.”

School adds that the cameras disguised as common objects are advancing quickly in video quality and sound. What’s more, with Wi-Fi and data plans becoming cheaper and readily available, people can live-stream what they see on the other side of their cameras directly on their smartphones as it’s being recorded.

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It’s exactly the type of product peeping Toms would purchase, say tech experts.

READ MORE: Upskirting victim launches website to flag hidden cameras across Toronto

“The cameras in stores or online, they’re just available to the public,” said School. “Anybody can just buy them, whatever kind you’re interested in, for the application they need.”

That’s especially concerning for people who work at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, who say they’ve seen an increase in the number of people who have come forward with stories that they’ve been recorded without their consent.

“There are more of these things coming up more and more in the work that I do,” said Deb Smith who works at the centre. “[The victims] are fearful that those pictures might be used for something or they’re fearful that they don’t have control over that content.”

READ MORE: Man wanted for voyeurism after hidden camera found in Scarborough restaurant washroom

For victims, the fight against voyeurism is made more difficult with a court system that hasn’t yet caught up with advances in hidden camera technology, according to sexual harassment lawyers.
“In the civil context, there are barriers for sure,” said Alexi Wood with St. Lawrence Barristers. “One of those is that the law is changing, the torts that are available are constantly evolving”
“The landscape is really changing this area,” added Wood. “Courts are pretty slow to catch up with technology, so it takes a while for some of the technological issues to be recognized as wrongs in the courts.”

But School is firm in his belief that the good of these technological advancements outweighs the bad.

“People use cameras that they wear for the types of things like harassment or people bullying at work or problems at work,” said School. “The ‘#MeToo’ type of stuff that goes on the workplace so it’s important sometimes when you have to gather evidence.”

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