Entries in Cameras (4)


NTSB Suggests Wingtip Cameras on Planes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Transportation Safety Board is suggesting that large aircraft be equipped with external cameras to give pilots a better view of a plane's wingtips as they travel along the taxiway -- and possibly cut down on ground crashes.

On planes such as the Boeing 747 and the giant Airbus A380, the safety board said, pilots can't see the wingtips from the cockpit unless they open the side window and stick out their heads.

Kevin Hiatt, a former commercial pilot and the chief operating officer of the Flight Safety Foundation, agreed that cameras might be a help.

"Physically, visually, you can't see those wingtips," he said. "If they [pilots] get into a tight situation, they might be able to use that reference of that camera in the cockpit to take a look at the wingtip."

In May, the wingtip of a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane hit the tail of an American Eagle flight as it taxied at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. No injuries were reported and the collision remains under investigation.

Outside cameras are standard on the Airbus A380 and A340-600 but are optional on the A330 models and A340-500. The cameras, however, primarily help the pilots see landing gears, not look at the wingtips.

Boeing told ABC News Thursday that it also has one plane with external cameras -- the 777-300 -- but not for wingtips.

While the safety board can make recommendations, it is up to the Federal Aviation Administration to decide whether to move forward on recommendations and require new safety equipment.

The NTSB said that the camera systems should be placed on new airplanes as well as those currently being flown.

Hiatt said that a sensor, like those in some cars, might work better. The sensor would set off a noise, like a beep, when the wingtip got too close to something.

"It would yet be one more thing that might bark at us to say 'Hey, watch out,' but in this particular case versus hitting something, I wouldn't mind that," he said.

Pilots that ABC News spoke with Thursday, however, said they did not like the camera suggestion.

Although they did not want to be quoted, they raised concerns about unintended consequences and distraction in the cockpit. Their biggest worry was that pilots would be tempted to keep an eye on the camera view, rather than scanning the tarmac in front of them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cameras in the Supreme Court: Why the Justices Are Skeptical

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court announced Friday that it would allow same day audio release of the historic health care arguments to be heard in two weeks. The announcement came from the Court’s public information officer and the press release made no mention about a request from several media organizations requesting that cameras be allowed to record the proceedings.

That’s not a surprise.

Chief Justice John Roberts has often been asked about allowing cameras in the majestic courtroom and he has expressed concerns about the cameras impact not only on the lawyers arguing the case but the justices hearing the case.

Roberts has said that he looks forward to the results of a pilot program in the lower courts regarding the impact of cameras in court, but he’s made no suggestion that the Supreme Court is ready to open its doors to cameras.

As things stand now, the Court will post audio recordings and unofficial transcripts of the health care arguments on its website within hours of the argument. The Court will hear six hours of arguments over three days. March 26-28.

In speeches and congressional appearances over the years, several justices have expressed concern about cameras in the court, although Justice Elena Kagan seems the most receptive to the idea.

In Aspen last summer, she described her days as solicitor general watching the court.

“Everybody was so prepared, so smart, so obviously deeply concerned about getting to the right answer” she said. “I thought, ‘If everybody could see this, it would make people feel so good about this branch of government.’”

She admitted that since taking the bench she has a better understanding of some of her colleague’s opposing positions.

“They are worried that if you put cameras in there, everybody will start playing to the cameras,” she said.

Justice Antonin Scalia told to Congress in 2011 that when he first joined the court he was in favor of televising arguments. But, he added, “The longer I’ve been there, the less good idea I think it is.”

The last 25 years have taught him about the danger of a sound bite.

If people actually watched the entire argument, Scalia said, cameras would provide a learning experience for the American public.

But, he said, “For every 10 people who sat through our proceedings, gavel to gavel, there would be 10,000 who would see nothing but a 30-second take-out from one of the proceedings.”

Scalia said television wouldn’t add much.

“We just sit there like nine sticks on chairs,” he said. “I mean, there is not a whole lot of visual motion. It’s mostly intellectual motion.”

Congress has, at various times, attempted to pass legislation requiring cameras in the courtroom. That angered Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2008.

“Our dynamic works,” Kennedy said during an appearance before Congress. “The discussions that the justices have with the attorneys during oral arguments is a splendid dynamic. If you introduce cameras, it is human nature for me to suspect from time to time that one of my colleagues is saying something for a sound bite."

“Please don’t introduce that insidious dynamic into what is now a collegial court,” he said. “Our court works. We teach by having no cameras, that we are different. We are judged by what we write. We are judged over a much longer term. We are not judged by what we say.”

Justice Clarence Thomas told Congress in 2008 that his primary concern is that “regular appearances on TV would mean significant changes in the way my colleagues could conduct their lives. My anonymity is already gone.”

Presumably, he was referring to his controversial confirmation hearings that were broadcast in 1991.

“It’s already affected the way that I can conduct my own life, but for some of my colleagues, they have not yet lost that anonymity,” Thomas said.

Justice Stephen Breyer urges caution. He told Congress in 2011 during an appropriations subcommittee hearing on the budget that the “court has lasted and served the country well over a long period of time,” and that the justices serve as the court’s “trustees” who don’t want to make a decision that could hurt the court.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made light of the issue during a speech in July of 2011.

“Lawyers and law professors alike pay close attention to the questions justices pose at oral argument, ” she said, proceeding to highlight some of the more amusing and unusual questions from the bench.

“You may better understand why the court does not plan to permit televising oral arguments any time soon,” Ginsburg said.

When he served on a lower court, Justice Samuel Alito voted in favor of his court televising proceedings. But in his confirmation hearings, he suggested that there are different considerations for televising Supreme Court arguments.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor also dealt with the issue as a lower court judge. In her confirmation hearings, she said that she had had a “positive experience” with cameras.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens no longer has to worry about the issue. But he told C-Span’s Brian Lamb recently he doesn’t see a change coming soon. “I wouldn’t hold my breath, that’s for sure,” Stevens said.

Stevens summed it up by saying, “On the one hand, televising the court would be good for the court and for the country, because I think people would realize that the justices are very thorough in their preparation for arguments and their understanding of the cases. They ask intelligent questions. People, I think, are generally favorably impressed when they see the court at work."

“But the other side of the coin is that television often has unexpected and unintended consequences,” he added. “You’re never 100 percent sure that might not cause a change in the procedure that would have an adverse effect on it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Video Voyeurs Target Public Restrooms, Dressing Rooms

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Reports of video voyeurs hiding tiny high-tech, low-cost cameras in public places are rising across the country, and many offenders are getting away with it, or getting off easy.

In October, police said James Allen Risi was caught on surveillance video at a Wal-Mart in Holly Hill, Fla., seeming to place his cell phone camera under an unsuspecting woman's dress. Police said he did the same thing at a nearby Salvation Army thrift store just weeks earlier, aiming the lens underneath the door of a dressing room as a 10-year-old girl changed clothes.

In August, police said Jonathan Willink of Monroe, La., was caught on tape placing a tiny camera in a tanning room at the health club, "Anytime Fitness," and recorded four naked women.

The Yockey family from Norfolk, Va., was on a trip to Washington, D.C., when their 5-year-old daughter said she needed to use the bathroom. When they ducked into a local Starbucks, the little girl spotted a tiny camera under the sink and told her father.

Lindsay Yockey, the young girl's mother, then left the bathroom, told the next woman waiting in line about the voyeur camera, then stormed up to the store manager, who they asked to call the police. The manager tried to offer the Yockeys a free coffee, but the family said they were furious.

Starbucks, with thousands of stores all over the country, seems to be a popular target for voyeurs. ABC's Nightline found at least seven reported cases of hidden cameras discovered inside of Starbucks locations. In one case, a man named William Zafra Velasco pled guilty after videotaping 45 women and children at a Starbucks in Glendora, Calif.

In another, a man named Jonathan Mikio Kennedy pled guilty after being caught on his own camera in Paltz, N.Y.

The Yockeys are now suing Starbucks for $1 million, arguing that the company should have been aware of this problem and should have done more to stop it. When asked how it would be possible for Starbucks to consistently check their bathrooms for hidden cameras, Yockey said they could provide more employee training.

"When you go to the most public restrooms, they have a checklist of items that they have to check to clean off," Andy Yockey said. "Making sure the toilet paper is stocked and what not. I mean, maybe training employees to look in those places -- check air vents, check behind the toilet."

Starbucks has denied any wrongdoing in the lawsuit brought against them by the Yockeys and has said, "we monitor the seating areas and rest rooms in our stores on a regular basis to identify potential safety or security concerns."

Privacy expert John Verdi said companies such as Starbucks need to do much more to stop video voyeurs.

"Starbucks strictly controls the quality of the products that are being sold in their stores. They strictly control the types of furniture and the wall hangings and the music that are played in their stores," he said. "These stores do not typically contain rogue items that just come in and install themselves. But that's exactly what we're talking about with these cameras."

Verdi said the problem is only going to get worse as cameras get more sophisticated and less expensive. A camera small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, powered by a 9V battery and streamed live to the Internet, was found in a Starbucks in Oregon.

The other problem is when video voyeurs are caught they are often not severely punished. In many states, voyeurism is only a misdemeanor -- meaning the perpetrator will serve less than a year in jail for the crime. Even if voyeurs are caught videotaping children, they are often not prosecuted for child pornography or added to the sex offender registry.

The person who shot the video of the Yockey's 5-year-old daughter in the Washington, D.C. Starbucks bathroom has not been caught. Her parents said she will not get over this disturbing experience for a long time.

"She's very aware of what happened," Andy Yockey said. "Even now well go to restaurants and she'll ask, 'daddy is it safe?'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Congress Force the Supreme Court’s Hand on Cameras in Court?

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is once again attempting to pass legislation to require televised Supreme Court proceedings, despite the extreme misgivings of many members of the court. A Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing Tuesday reignited an old separation of powers debate: Does Congress actually have the authority to pass such legislation?

The latest attempt is called the Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has been one of the most vocal critics of such congressional attempts. He told Congress in 2008, “Our dynamic works.”

“The discussions that the justices have with the attorneys during oral arguments is a splendid dynamic,” he said. “If you introduce cameras, it is human nature for me to suspect from time to time that one of my colleagues is saying something for a sound bite. Please don’t introduce that insidious dynamic into what is now a collegial court.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chaired the hearing Tuesday and argued that public access is severely limited even though the court releases transcripts and audio recordings of the arguments. Klobuchar noted that the court has very few seats for those who want to witness history and said, “It shouldn’t be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the court in action.”

But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., disagreed and said the current system is working well. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, ” he cautioned.

Sessions is concerned about pushing legislation that the majority of the court opposes. “We should take very serious [the court's view] and respect it,” he said. “It’s their domain. ”

Opponents of the legislation argue that the court is concerned that cameras would change the way lawyers and judges present their arguments in a way that would ultimately hurt the court as an institution.

Sen. Klobuchar said she thought the court is above such concerns. “I was trying to picture Ruth Bader Ginsburg turning into Judge Judy,” she joked. “It’s not going to happen.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio