Cameras Let Voyeurs See Through Clothes

ByABC News via logo
August 6, 2001, 9:22 PM

N E W  Y O R K, Aug. 7 -- Peeping Tom has crept into the computer age.

Good Morning America's consumer correspondent Greg Hunter found there is a new infrared video camera that allows users to see through peoples' clothes.

And some people are posting these nude pictures on the Internet, where they could be available to millions of eyeballs without the person in the picture knowing it. At least 12 Web sites feature pictures of women who look almost naked, even though they are wearing clothes or a swimsuit.

"It's a great way to be a Peeping Tom without having to climb a tree and look in the window," said Beth Givens of the Privacy Clearinghouse. "It's invisible to the person whose privacy is being violated they don't know somebody has the ability to look under their clothes."

Like Ordinary Video Cameras

The cameras look like ordinary home video cameras equipped with night vision, infrared technology that allows users to take pictures in dark. But someone discovered that using night vision in broad daylight with a special filter allows the viewer to see through some clothes.

Sony discovered the cameras' X-ray ability in 1998 and quickly changed the way it manufactured its Nightvision cameras so they would not allow users to peer through clothes. But some people figured out how to modify the camera to get the see-through effect back and hundreds of the modified cameras are for sale on the Internet. The camera with all the filters sells for about $700 brand new, and is easy to obtain, Hunter found. Sony said it has no responsibility for altered or modified products.

Using the "X-ray camera" and two volunteer models, Hunter demonstrated that a viewer could see that the female model wore nothing under a black, patterned skirt and that a man has a tattoo that says "Sosa" under his shirt.

But he points out that both models knew they were being photographed, while most people who end up on the Internet sites he found do not know that they would end up there. Their pictures are taken on the street, at swimming pools, and even beaches.