Thursday, February 5, 2015

War in the Woods (North Vancouver): Weapons of choice: Survelliance Spy Cameras? Legal or illegal?

In the old days confrontations were settled by throwing down gauntlets resulting in a battle to the death, today it's high tech digital spy camera capabilities vs a walk in the park.  The winner: 2 Cyclists
.... the arrest came as a result of the observations by two local mountain bikers who regularly use the public trails. Between August 1st and December 29th, 2014, the bikers noticed weekly obstructions on the trail which, at times, became dangerous for them and other bikers. For the month of December 2014, the two bikers took it upon themselves to purchase, install, and monitor security cameras in the hopes of capturing an image of the offender. - RCMP North Vancouver

What if, in all those recordings covering 24/7 for December, the two bikers found 'evidence' of other activities, a hug here, a kiss there between two local politicians, married but not married to each other.  What if images were taken of families, children?

How were the cameras installed, in a toolbox with a peephole or in a bird's nest egging them on?

Why didn't the bikers try a less confrontational route by posting signs as a deterrent to stop damage being done to trails?    No camera, just signs implying that there were cameras.

This Area May Be Monitored by Video Surveillance Cameras (CCTV)

The personal information collected by the use of the CCTV at this site is collected under the authority of (an Act) and (by-law). This information is used for the purpose of promoting public safety and reduction of crime at this site.

Any questions about this collection can be directed to the Manager of (Department) at (phone number), (City Hall address) (e-mail).
There is a higher authority when it comes to the public's use of surveillance cameras, the RCMP but they have shown a tendency to turn a blind eye to special interest groups in the name of Safety.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  1. The public should be advised that they will be under surveillance. The public should be informed with clearly written signs at the perimeter of surveillance areas, which advise that the area is or may be under surveillance, and indicate who is responsible for the surveillance, including who is responsible for compliance with privacy principles, and who can be contacted to answer questions or provide information about the system.

2012  CBC report:
Store video cameras failing to comply with privacy laws
    Not a single store in Toronto's Eaton Centre had proper signage about cameras
...... Nathalie Desrosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association:
People have a right to choose if they want to enter a store and then have their image recorded, she said, but if they don't know they are being recorded, they can't make that choice.

"It's a question of not depriving people of the opportunity to make a decision themselves about what they want to share and what they do not want to share and that's a fundamental aspect of human dignity."

Desrosiers says this also raises concerns about how the recorded information is being used, and whether the technology is being mined for other reasons, such as targeted marketing or law enforcement.


About SurveillanceRights

SurveillanceRights is a research project that aims to better inform Canadians about video surveillance and their rights in relation to it.  We are developing this website and the SurveillanceWatch web and smartphone app for mapping the location of surveillance cameras using crowdsourced contributions from people like you.

About 'Who's watching You?'

What do you think about video surveillance?  This project asks how Canadians feel about being filmed when walking down public sidewalks, going into shopping centres or office buildings, or walking past many other publicly accessible areas.  You can spot cameras operated by stores, bars, restaurants, property managers, banks, hotels, police services, hospitals, schools, universities, and more.  What kind of information would you like to know about the way these places collect, use, or store images of you?

Are your privacy rights respected?

Because video surveillance operators capture personal information, they come under Canadian privacy legislation.  For example, video surveillance in commercial operations is governed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) or provincial equivalent.

You have a right to an informed choice

Canadian Privacy Commissioners have noted that 'most privacy laws require the organization conducting video surveillance to post a clear and understandable notice about the use of cameras on its premises to individuals whose images might be captured by them, before these individuals enter the premises.'  This is so we can make an informed choice about whether or not to enter.

The use of the video cameras by two bikers has created the opportunity for a double edged sword thrust by the hikers in their promotion of Safety in the woods ..... by the 2% cyclists.

Time to turn the heat down.

The District of North Vancouver should Post signs, install cameras if necessary, and not leave it to  the vigilantes.
District North Vancouver Source
DNV Rules
Multi-Use Trails
Mountain Bikers should give way to hikers

should??? probably explains a lot about the War


It should be noted that Fromme Mountain Trail Networks is not Whistler

Whistler runs are Cyclists use ONLY!!!!

There is no such thing as Multi use trails

Mountain Biking BC
Code of Conduct

4.Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.

 .... Bicyclists  should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel......  non-motorized meaning .... hikers.  If a bicyclist has to dismount from his non-motorized vehicle is he then deemed to be a  ..... pedestrian and needs to find a different route home....

Does the RCMP concur with the Code?  or is there a double standard


 Man dead after mountain biking accident on Cypress

West Vancouver police say it’s not yet known if he was wearing a helmet when he crashed

Dan Burritt - May 7,  2012

 ...... McCrae says it’d be slippery with lots of mud right now because of the late snow pack and the wet weather.

He says certainly, wipeouts are common on the North Shore.

“But one of the things people don’t realize about the riding up here is it’s so technical, you don’t have a lot of speed. And generally, when you have serious injuries in mountain biking, it’s because of speed,” he says.

McCrae says while there are a lot of crashes, it’s the kind where you dust yourself off and keep going.

CBC Mount Fromme

Challenged?? CBC


No Challenge


Stravas guy should like this

 Privacy Rights be Damned by Cyclists

Cyclist Hells Angels on proper use of Surveillance Cameras


Information was gathered by video and by picture by different parties about the saboteur's actions. Although her actions were discussed and logged extensively on open internet forums she either didn't read such forums or didn't care so indulged in a repetitive pattern of behaviour. Game cameras are used by hunters to capture images of wildlife. From a trail work perspective Jay Hoots gives examples of game cams being used as counters, to assess user trends, for materials and tools security, for animal monitoring and for weather watching. It turns out that they also have uses by trail users for catching people in the act of perpetrating crimes. .

This is a site for internet bike nerds who love to moan about wheel sizes and enduro lingerie and not about game cams so I won't dwell long on this topic of game cam geek specs and instead checked with a friend who runs a hunting site and who mentioned the Bushnell cams and the Stealth Cams as being particularly useful. Neither are particularly cheap but they are effective. They are weather proof and their batteries last for weeks as they draw very little current. If you have more questions ask in the comments and I'll enlist a game cam geek to try to answer.

Images for To Catch A Saboteur article
left: Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam - approx $ 200 CAD; right Stealth Cam - approx $189

None of the parties who installed the game cams, obtained the footage and turned the footage over to the law enforcement authorities were particularly keen on being publicly named, citing concerns about the mental stability of the saboteur they were targeting. Understandable. They did give me some sample footage produced by the game cams and some recommendations on what to in obtaining the footage and documenting same in a useable format. Recommendations are as follows:

1. Position the camera high. You can stand on a bike's top tube or the shoulders of a friend to get the camera high enough that it's hard to take down or to damage the camera. The game cam is less likely to be seen if it's higher. It's pretty stunning how oblivious people are to things not in their direct line of vision so just move the cam up a bit and it'll be practically invisible.

2. Buy a lock. Some of these game cams can be locked. Even if the game cam is whacked with a stick or object and dislodged/damaged hopefully the case is sturdy enough to protect the camera and the storage media. Sure locks can be broken but the lock is just another deterrent for the saboteur.

3. Practise positioning. You can use sticks or other material to orient the camera the right way. Most of the cameras take SD cards which can be read in other cameras or a small tablet on-site. That's the best way to ensure you have a good position before deploying the camera.

4. Get two cameras. If you're particularly motivated it's a nice idea to have one cam pointing at the other cam. Or you can put one cam in an obvious spot and the other cam more well hidden. Of course that means doubling up on a pretty substantial cost but do you want to catch this person or do you want to just talk about it?

5. Keep it quiet. The parties who got the game cams didn't talk about it on internet bulletin boards. They didn't posture about what they would do. They bought the cams and put them up. They got the footage and they delivered it to law enforcement in a coordinated tidy package. If you spray about where and what you're going to do to police your trails then hey maybe you get more LIKES or PROPS but, at the same time, all you do is alert the perpetrator thus defeating the purpose. Fortunately, in this situation, the trail saboteur in question probably doesn't read internet bulletin boards.

6. Document everything. Log the dates and times when the trail sabotage is occurring. Take pictures of the sabotage (the pics and video will be date and time stamped but you have to set that correctly in the cams). Tag the most relevant footage. Keep a solid electronic or paper trail of what you're doing so when you take the next step of involving law enforcement you will be more likely to be taken seriously.

7. Include some video if possible. Sometimes in a photo it's hard to know if the debris or obstacle is being removed or placed. The video takes away all doubt.

Leave No Trace  No Signs


e.a.f. said...

personally don't like cameras and want to be notified about them. I can understand them being in banks. They do get robbed.

The case of the 2 vigilantes, not so much. The woman who allegedly put out the obstructions was wrong, but so was the "camera". I do trust the case will be thrown out of court, for unlawful filming. Everyone has rights, even alleged criminals.

North Van's Grumps said...

Defense counsel for the defendant is going to have a field day with the credibility of the video, authenticity, documentation and what editing took place by the bikers rather than a professional willing to testify. As to the two bikers surveillance tactics, illegal.

Next up on the stand will be the RCMP to explain why they haven't reprimanded, made an example of the two bikers (who) took it upon themselves to purchase, install, and monitor security cameras on public park property where there shouldn't be any cameras spying.

The public, now, must consider that there is somebody recording our every move, even in the woods. And we all know now, who is doing it.

Anonymous said...

High River proved the RCMP cannot be trusted.

Terrafirma said...

Coming late onto this blog post, I find it highly interesting that the MTB stir pot is calling the kettle black.

Over the years (sanctioned and unsanctioned), the mountain bikers have set up their own traps to stop mountain bikers from "using" various trails (they had poached, or cut without permission) for whatever reasons only known to these MTBers. One MTBer/lawyer had posted pictures of his own trail "punji stick tank traps" on a popular local MTB rag:
(Quote: "in the picture above note i stuck a bunch of punji sticks in the tank-trap pile which we built in the middle of the braid, facing outwards towards the trail. you can guess whether or not anything was smeared on the sticks. Ride at your own risk. The punji sticks are a convenient place to put up nooses or signs.")

Other MTBers speak of placing the biggest logs and rocks they can place on trail "braids" to keep MTB strava racers from abusing them.

These hypocritical MTBers also so conveniently forget that their own (sanctioned and unsanctioned) MTB stunt structures built on the trails have injured, maimed and killed more than a few people over the years.

And how many fines/charges/convictions would have been doled out to these MTB hypocrites, had our Environmental Protection laws and bylaws actually been enforced in the early years against these MTBers, rather than to reward them for their many "crimes" in the woods?

The "war of the woods" is long from over, as long as the MTBers are continually rewarded for their crimes, and not punished.

North Van's Grumps said...

@Terrafirma: One MTBer/lawyer

Isn't there only One Lawyer to is a MTB?

Terrafirma said...

Not sure what you mean @North Van Grumps? One lawyer, who is also an MTBer (and was a former NSMBA president -- I forgot to mention that little tidbit...) posted the photos and captions I referred to my April 25th post.

Anonymous said...

Since a BC Provincial Court in North Vancouver set a precedent for this sort of thing, in 2016, more private citizens seem to be setting up surveillance cameras in public places to catch a crime in action.

You have privacy, and other issues around this? Your concerns don't count, anymore