Little Brother watching you
March 18, 1999: 2:13 p.m. ET

Cheaper, smaller equipment makes it easier for anyone to become a spy
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The security and surveillance industry is looking for other areas for growth and "Big Brother" may be replaced by "Little Brother."
     While larger companies have embraced surveillance equipment for a long time, security firms believe small business and individuals can be an area for growth.
     Last year, revenue for the security dealer and installer firms grew 5.2 percent to $15.23 billion, according to a survey by Security Distributing and Marketing magazine.
     Ever-shrinking electronic equipment, such as miniature video cameras, have companies like Supercircuits, a Leander, Texas based seller of such technology, looking to the future.
     In addition, prices have been shrinking along with camera technology, said Steven Klindworth, owner of Supercircuits, bringing it more within the reach of individuals. Many of these smaller video cameras retail for under $100.
     Electronic security companies can offer anything from a camera in a hat, necktie, jacket, pager or purse.
     "The bag concealment is handy because you can place the video recorder in the bag and the camera is right here in the front," said Klindworth.
     Small businesses are becoming more likely to use such equipment as well.
     One such firm is Van's Auto Parts in Austin, Texas. The company's owner was hit twice by employee theft, once losing $25,000 and $40,000 the second time.
     While these would be hard losses for many companies, it was particularly a burden for a small business like Van's.
     The company had surveillance equipment installed late at night so none of the employees would know about it. Within a week the thief was caught on camera taking the money. He was fired and is now working on repaying the stolen money.
     But not only businesses are relying on the surveillance equipment. In a recent sting operation a county employee in Florida was caught taking a bribe, which led to her conviction.
     Individuals are finding they too can participate in the electronic surveillance revolution.
     A series of high-profile incidents where nannies, babysitters and other child care providers have allegedly injured children under their care has led to the rise of "nanny cams" through which worried parents can keep an eye on their kids' caretakers.
     In the future, those in the industry hope the Internet can link all of this various spy equipment into one place, so that a click of a mouse can let you watch your kids, monitor your house and keep a sharp eye on the employee in the next office.Back to top


Arresting employee theft - Nov. 13, 1997


Electronic Privacy Information Center

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