Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, but sometimes these theories can be downright terrifying. The idea of sitting at home watching television in an altered state of mind is terrifying enough to some, but what if that television was staring right back at you and recording your every move? The conspiracy to change every digital TV box into a surveillance unit reporting what’s happening in our living room has many people switching off the TV. When I got my hands on a digital converter box I decided to blow the lid off this conspiracy theory once and for all.
It all started simply enough. A friend of mine into electronics occasionally helps me with projects such as this. After Christmas a digital converter box is easy enough to find for sale in any department store, and there was a time they were quite literally giving the converter boxes away for free. You can even find them discarded entirely if you know what to look for. While free is a price you certainly can’t beat, we wanted to make sure the real price wasn’t our privacy.
After getting the external casing off, the first thing we noticed was a large yellow block in the front. It was this internal component that many people had suggested was where the camera was located. So unsatisfied with the fact that the device clearly didn’t have a lens or microphone in it, we looked into the origins of this story that seems to have so many convinced that they’ll soon be engaging in a staring contest with their televisions and possibly an unknown insidious power on the other side of the world.
The story has a cultural connection with that paramount of Big Brother conspiracy literature 1984. In the novel, devices very much like televisions are in every home perpetually on. And they not only show images to its viewers, but also broadcast the goings on of every living room to the masters of the world on the other side. In George Orwell’s hellish world, there is no such thing as privacy. But Orwell himself wasn’t the catalyst of this latest scare. The person most often blamed for this one is 28 year old Adam Chroniste, who first announced his “find” in the form of a video on youtube. This same video got millions of views. But this television conspiracy used a prop camera attached to an internal component with a hot glue gun alongside a microphone. If there had been a camera in our digital tv converters, it would have been appropriate to say, “Don’t believe everything you see on your tv.” But as this hoax has been fully exposed, don’t expect anyone to be listening when you yell at your digital converter – as you try to get the thing to work.
But just because these converter boxes don’t seem to have cameras and microphones in them doesn’t mean every question has been answered about digital television. There’s still plenty of questions left unanswered about this move. But for that you’ll have to tune in next time.