Privacy: Motion activated cameras in the woods?

I recently went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts. One of the reasons I go out is to “get away”, to go “off the grid”, to enjoy nature and get away from adds, trackers, social media, etc.

But a funny thing happened at my last campsite. There was a camera strapped to a tree taking my picture every time I put my food in or out of the “bear box”. The sign on the camera, in addition to asking us not disturb the camera (duct tape, anyone ?) assured us that they were only using the images to track bear activity at the campsite and the images would be destroyed after being used for their intended purpose. Right. They would not be fed to facial recognition software, and the results would not be passed to law enforcement. Right.

Figure 1: “Caméra de vidéo-surveillance” by zigazou76 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Figure 1: “Caméra de vidéo-surveillance” by zigazou76 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In addition to that, many hikers now use the “Guthook” app to track their progress, find distance to water, etc. It has social media-like features that let you leave messages to help other hikers like “there is a good stealth campsite at this stream…”. And such comments suggesting helpful, but sometimes over the official line actions, which are absolutely not being monitored by park officials (looking at you Smokies, Baxter) and others concerned with keeping everyone strictly in line with the mountains of rules made by people sitting at desks who have NOT just hiked 8 to 12 hours a day for days on end and have no appreciation of or sympathy for realities in the field.

Mind you, I’m all for Leave No Trace, minimizing impact, ensuring that others have the same opportunities I crave to enjoy nature, not killing cute little animals out of sheer cruelty, etc, but…

"Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs,
blocking out the scenery, blowing my mind,
saying 'Do this, don't do that'
Can't you read the signs?"

Signs, The Five Man Electrical Band
Code Snippet 1: foo Signs

The point is that our information-obsessed, always-connected, bureaucratic society will not even leave you alone, even in the woods. Thoreau, Muir, Audubon: meet the panopticon.

Post 29 of #100DaysToOffload