The mother and her 5-year-old son were visiting a Starbucks when they had to use the restroom. After her little boy used the toilet, she took care of her business, but she noticed that he was quizzically staring at the sink. She asked him what was wrong, and he asked her why there was a phone under there.
When she investigated, she was horrified to find a cellphone propped up into place underneath the sink, pointed at the toilet. It was on and running and was also recording. The police were called, and after they investigated, they were unable to determine at this time how long it had been on or where the recording was being sent to, if anywhere. They also weren't sure how much footage was captured.
Starbucks, of course, was upset that this incident took place in their store and released the following statement:
"We are disturbed by this incident and take our obligation to provide a safe environment for our customers and partners (employees) very seriously. Our store partners took swift action as soon as they became aware of the incident by immediately alerting the Sheriff’s Department of the situation."
The investigation has yet to reveal who set up the camera, but the bottom line is that this is a massive invasion of privacy. Public bathrooms are places where we need to feel comfortable. Hidden cameras are not welcome anywhere, but they are particularly unwelcome in restrooms — when I think about what sort of footage this cellphone captured, it makes me shudder. Women and children in various stages of undress, pooping, peeing and dealing with periods while someone potentially watches? It makes me sick.
Unfortunately there have been other incidents where hidden cameras have been found or existing cameras hacked. And while there are ways you can keep your own personal cameras away from prying eyes (for example, changing the default username and password on your Wi-Fi baby monitor), it's still scary that you can do nothing more unusual than use a public restroom and find that your privates are being broadcast to who knows where.
This mom was fortunate that she had her little guy with her, who is small enough that he was able to spot the phone, but that doesn't mean you can't do the same. Doing a quick sweep of a bathroom is never a bad idea, especially in a bathroom that has a toilet and a sink in the same room.
As disturbing as this is to say, I sincerely hope the camera was not streaming elsewhere and was only for someone's personal use, mainly because the device has been confiscated and the phone will stay out of his or her hands. But I don't blame this mother for feeling completely violated — I would too.
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