Originally published January 2002, updated August 2004

Web cams have been an internet craze since their invention. Thousands are plugging them into their PCs and imagining that they are TV and movie stars. Net users will show anyone who cares to watch their song and dance performances, their recitations of Shakespeare, their home made porno, and anything else they can imagine. It has been a like a game, and people everywhere want to get in on it, but it is no game anymore. They have no idea that since the passing of the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001, the government has been authorized to watch them using Carnivore. For those unfamiliar, Carnivore is a computer system used by the FBI, CIA and other agencies to scan people's E-mail, allegedly for signs of terrorism. At first, E-mail was all they were authorized to use Carnivore for, but it is now being used to keep track of anyone naive enough to use a web cam!

THE UNCOVEROR spoke to an FBI agent who is very upset about Carnivore. To protect the agent's life, we are withholding the agents name."This information needs to get out at all costs. The American people have a right to know. Ceiling fans and V-Chip enabled TV sets have not been enough. Many power-mad shadowy figures in the government want more surveillance. Until now, they had to be really cloak and dagger about it all, but the Patriot Act has now legalized all their methods. They are not yet ready to spy on us on the grand scale they desire, but they are getting there. The new world order is nearly at hand!. They need more computers, faster software,  more agents to man their spying stations, and more web cams in American homes, schools, and businesses.  George Orwell's dark vision of the future was only 20 years off. It will be 1984 in 2004! The unseen forces used to have communism as a catch-all boogeyman to rail against.  That way, no one would know what they were really up to. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, they haven't had a boogeyman. Now Osama Bin Laden and al-Qae'da have given them a new one!"
Our source began to shake and stammer, at that point, and had to take a nerve pill to calm down. The agent then told us, "The unspeakable acts of terror on 9-11 caused Congress to knee jerk, and pass the USA Patriot Act. This was a dream come true to the shadowy figures in the government and the military-industrial complex trying to bring about the new world order. Combating terrorism is not what this is about. It will do nothing to combat terrorism! It's about creating a totalitarian state. This is not paranoid black helicopter stuff, it is real! Bringing about the new world order is the reason the new office of homeland security was created, and they are the ones running it. Them, I tell you! Their plans to put every one of us under surveillance, and therefore under their power may be unstoppable now even if the Patriot Act is repealed or overturned. They have already received the funding! There are no limits to the number of couch-potato TV junkies they could get to watch the screens. The only problem they have run into so far is that a lot of the ones they hire to watch the screens are just porno pervs who want to watch  girls get naked. Their plan to put web cams everywhere is on schedule, though. Watch for nearly every ISP in  America and overseas to start offering free web cams! Watch for web cams built into monitors, web cams on PDAs, web cams on cell phones! Americans need to see the dark possibilities for web cams, and stop using them for Pete's sake!" He then fainted.

UPDATE: A new computer worm called Rbot-GR is crawling its way through the internet. It exploits vulnerabilities in Windows to install itself on unprotected machines. Once this piece of malware is installed, "hackers" (really the government) can use any attached webcam to spy on victims or any attached microphone to eavesdrop. See! We told you so.

To make it seem that this is a garden variety hacker's tool, and not a government surveillance program, the worm will disable shared network resources and steal passwords, such as those for paypal and ebay. Rbot-GR can also steal Windows XP product keys, and serial numbers for many popular games such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Unreal Tournament 2003, Unreal Tournament 2004, Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Vietnam, Command and Conquer: Generals (Zero Hour), Neverwinter Nights, and many others. The FBI, or some other police agency will probably arrest someone they claim is a virus writer, and say that perpetrator has been dealt with, but don't be fooled. This is big brother, not some kid, or an unsociable grown man living in his mother's basement.

When shopping for webcams or a new TV online then reading electronics reviews on the Internet could help you choose the right electronics, like finding the TVs that best fit your needs.