Step-father escapes child pornography conviction

A naval police officer installed a nanny cam in his stepdaughter’s room to spy on her, his justification being that it was based on her welfare, to confirm his suspicions she was drinking alcohol or taking drugs in her bedroom.

Two years after the incident police discovered naked footage of the 15 year old girl resident on the hard drive of the man’s computer during the execution of a search warrant, and the naval officer was charged with producing and possessing child pornography.

The man escaped conviction when a Hornsby Magistrates Court dismissed the charges after arriving at a finding that the man had not installed the spy camera for the purpose of sexual gratification.

The defendant claimed that when he saw the then 15 year old girl entering her room in a towel he deleted the footage from the camera. He denied allegations that he knew she had been in the shower at the time he snuck into her room and positioned the camera on her desk.

The man explained that the footage had accidentally transferred from the camera’s memory stick and he had planned to delete it from his hard disk.

Wireless nanny cameras and covert miniature hidden cameras are now affordable so that anyone can get access to them.

The use of these ‘protective’ devices could have unforeseen consequences, and I would think that setting up a camera in the bedroom of a 15 year old girl would be crossing the line. Any concerned step-father would have to expect their step-daughter to be in a state of undress at some time within the privacy of her own bedroom.

Children and young persons are objecting to technologies used by their parents to track their movements which are far less intrusive.

If ever there was a case for upholding a child’s right to privacy this would have to be it.

The most frequently cited reason many parents get a nanny spy camera is that they are concerned about the potential for abuse of their children by caretakers. The cameras are marketed in a manner which suggests that they protect vulnerable persons from the possibility of such abuse and exploitation.

However considering sexual abuse of young women and children often takes place within the home, it raises the question as to whether there should be legal safeguards on the use of these technologies. Snooping spy cameras are dangerous in the hands of domestic abusers.

Filming a female teenage surreptitiously in an area where they are likely to be naked seems inappropriate.

Advocates for surveillance cameras tell us not to worry about the watchers who watch us, particularly those in positions of trust and that surveillance cameras are not abused. However there are a number of documented cases of abuses of surveillance cameras over a period of years.

There is also an important distinction to be made between such tools being used responsibly by law enforcement and other agencies in the prevention and enforcement of crime and the use which is now made by anyone who can access the technology and misuse it.

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