Apr 092010
 April 9, 2010  Posted by  Featured News, Surveillance

FourthAmendment.com alerts us to this report by Tony Bartelme:

Last month, Herman Jacob took his daughter and her friend camping in the Francis Marion National Forest. While poking around for some firewood, Jacob noticed a wire. He pulled on it and followed it to a video camera and antenna.

The camera didn’t have any markings identifying its owner, so Jacob took it home and called law enforcement agencies to find out if it was theirs, all the while wondering why someone would station a video camera in an isolated clearing in the woods.

He eventually received a call from Mark Heitzman of the U.S. Forest Service.

In a stiff voice, Heitzman ordered Jacob to turn it back over to his agency, explaining that it had been set up to monitor “illicit activities.” Jacob returned the camera but felt uneasy.

Why, he wondered, would the Forest Service have secret cameras in a relatively remote camping area? What do they do with photos of bystanders?

How many hidden cameras are they using, and for what purposes? Is this surveillance in the forest an effective law enforcement tool? And what are our expectations of privacy when we camp on public land?

Officials with the Forest Service were hardly forthcoming with answers to these and other questions about their surveillance cameras. When contacted about the incident, Heitzman said “no comment,” and referred other questions to Forest Service’s public affairs, who he said, “won’t know anything about it.”

Read more on IslandPacket.com.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of unseen eyes monitoring or surveilling us while camping is somewhat disturbing. So… what do they do with all the images and should there be signs posted warning people that campgrounds are under surveillance and that you may be caught on camera while crapping in the woods? Is Francis Marion an anomaly or is this a widespread issue?

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