WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 08, 2010, 08:20 AM

Remote controlled camera causes privacy concern for neighbors

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A West Fargo neighborhood is relieved tonight after learning a nearby tower camera may not be pointed in their back-yards anymore. Great Plains Tower Company just off of Main Avenue installed a camera on a tower recently for security reasons. More than just the company was able to watch what the camera saw.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Anne Poitra of West Fargo is a busy mom with 7-kids to take care of. Imagine her concern when she learned people could go on-line and with the click of a mouse, zoom into her back yard.

“It is very creepy. She called and said I am on the computer and I can see your curtain moving in your bathroom and the kids in the backyard.”

West Fargo police tell us the company installed the camera not only for security purposes, but so customers online could manipulate the camera to zoom into product in the yard.

Logging on the Great Plains Tower website, we were able to zoom into homes in Anne's neighborhood earlier today. Once we contacted Great Plains Tower, that access stopped. While the company declined comment, West Fargo police talked with the company.

“The company was surprised. The purpose was legitimate, but they are reviewing the product and the manufacturing to see where the camera is capable of.”

“Thinking in the back of my head, who is seeing what the kids are doing in my backyard when I am not there?”

West Fargo Police say there was never intent by the company to allow those online to zoom into neighborhoods, but with high tech, comes the challenge of privacy rights and the progress of commerce. Great Plains Tower also uses the Tower Cam in Bismarck and Billings, Montana.