In October of this year, a couple from Northern Florida went on a three-day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy out of Mobile. On the last evening of the cruise, to their shock and horror, they discovered a small video camera hidden in the bundled cables, behind the television in their cabin, which pointed toward their bed.
A photo of a cabin similar to cabin U 160 on the Fantasy (middle, right), shows the television in the corner of the cabin.
The camera was wired to a transmitter and both devices were powered from the television power cable. They became concerned that video images of them undressed had been transmitted, recorded and viewed by others and possibly uploaded to the internet. They were especially fearful that images of their 10 year-old child dressing and undressing in the cabin were also transmitted, recorded and viewed by others.
The couple reported the presence of the camera and transmitter in their cabin to the cruise ship’s security department. One of Carnival’s security personnel arrived in their cabin. He disconnected and removed the camera and transmitter with no gloves on and did not attempt to secure the room. In the video below, you can hear the passenger asking the officer why he was not wearing gloves.
The passenger thereafter communicated with the security staff to obtain an update. According to the passengers, the Carnival security personnel confirmed that the camera and transmitter: (1) were operational; (2) were typically the type of devices used on video drones: and (3) the transmitter was a long range device.
To the passenger’s knowledge, Carnival did not promptly report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The passenger learned that Carnival notified the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), although the CBP told the concerned passenger that it had no jurisdiction over the matter and it took no action.
The passengers have heard absolutely nothing from Carnival about these troubling circumstances since returning from the cruise two months ago. They contacted my office and I sent a letter to Carnival asking for an explanation, which Carnival has ignored for the past month.
The passengers did not seek any type of compensation but were concerned that the Carnival security team did not properly investigate the incident, did not properly preserve the cabin and the video and transmitter therein and, in fact, spoliated this evidence, and failed to timely report the circumstances described above to the FBI as required by law. They remain concerned that they were not the only victims of this secret recording and transmitting equipment, placed in their cabin on the Carnival cruise ship, and that other Carnival guests had their privacy invaded.
18 U.S. Code § 1801 (“Video Voyeurism”) states that it is a crime to have “the intent to capture an image of a private area of an individual without their consent . . .” (and the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy). The term “capture” is defined as “to videotape, photograph, film, record by any means, or broadcast” and the term “broadcast” means to "electronically transmit a visual image with the intent that it be viewed by a person or persons."
In a statement to the Miami New Times, which covered the disturbing incident, a Carnival PR representative recently claimed that the recording and transmiting equipment were alledgedly "not operational." That’s not what the passenger recalls hearing on the ship. It begs the question why Carnival didn’t communicate with the family after they returned home from the cruise and why the cruise line ignored our request for an explanation. Of course, the presence of the recording and transmitting equipment shows an intent to record and transmit, which is clearly a crime.
Carnival disassembled the devices without permitting the FBI or the local police conduct an investigation. In addition to the federal statute, Alabama has a state statute similar to 18 U.S. Code § 1801. The state statute would apply to any intent to secretely record and transmitt images within the state territorial waters of Alabama.
I have heard of video spy cameras in hotels, spas and bathrooms before, but admittedly not in cruise cabins before this case. The Miami New Times article accurately quotes me – " The more I was thinking about it, it got me thinking: How often does this happen? . . . How many other passengers are being secretly recorded?"
Indeed, how long had the spy equipment been installed in cabin U 160 on the Carnival Fantasy, how many other passengers in this cabin have been videotaped in the past, and how many passengers have been videotaped on other cruise ships?
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December 18, 2017 Update: Carnival, the "Poop Cruise," Becomes the "Pervert Cruise?"
Photo credit: Carnival Fantasy cabin (similar to cabin U 160) – cruiseline.com