Tape over webcam

Above: Strips of adhesive tape covering a laptop webcam. Credit: Oscopic.

Tape Index

Government spying agencies, hackers, and various social-media apps., have the capability to take control of the inbuilt video-camera of any Internet-connected laptop and record video material without the user's knowledge.

This is well-known-and-presumed by many, and awareness of this possibility typically prompts a simple defeat: a piece of adhesive tape placed over the webcam (video-camera) when it is not in use. Both Mark Zuckerberg (CEO, Facebook) and James Comey (Former Director F.B.I.) tape over their laptop-webcam when it is not in use. For many, taping over one's webcam is just a basic precaution.

This small piece of tape is called, in technical visual-photographic terms--semiotics--an index: the presence of the tape is an index that represents visually the notion of being spied on in the Internet age.

Loss-of-privacy and cyber-spying in the Internet age can be represented in any photo-image with a small rectangle of adhesive tape covering a webcam: the tape "says" loss-of-privacy and cyber-spying. It is a visual shorthand, a symbol, a means of referring to (introducing) a broad social justice issue by use of a definite concrete visual image--the object stands-in for the wider topic.

In a photo, video, or film ("lens-based media"), depicting such a piece of adhesive tape in place, tells the viewer that here is a person with an Internet-connected laptop who is well aware that some using the Internet are snoops, secret agents, pranksters, and perverts. Such symbolism, if used with care, can be a very efficient format of visual communication.

(7 April 2018)