Airport urinal surveillance cameras?

Last week, while traveling out of town from Hobby Airport, I took this photograph and posted it on Natuba/twitter:

The sign on the urinal reads, “Automatic infrared flush sensors also provide video monitoring for security purposes”

Posted on Natuba

Gus over at Swamplot wrote it up as a story, after some back and forth on e-mail with me. And then Swamplot’s write-up got picked up on slashdot.org.

First of all, the photograph was NOT photoshop’ed. It went straight from my iPhone to Natuba (what I use to post photographs to twitter) with no editing in between. If anyone is at Hobby Airport and wants to see this thing, it was in the men’s restroom near gate 51 last week Wednesday.

More importantly, though, what’s the story here? Is DHS actually monitoring airport restrooms using cameras installed at the urinal? I exchanged emails with Marlene McClinton at the Houston Airport System (as a side note, HAS uses SnapStream to monitor mentions of themselves on TV) over the weekend and she wrote:

…I talked to all of our security folks and they talked to DHS and said no way, there is no such program or video or cam in stalls or urinals.

So it sounds like this was a simple prank… I’ll update this post if I hear anything else from DHS or from the Houston Airport System (HAS was going to check out the particular location I mentioned seeing the stickers at).

My favorite comment from the slashdot posting:

“I’m sure this is a prank. Since this is generating bad publicity for the DHS, they will probably catch the person who put these stickers on the urinals after reviewing the video from the real, covert hidden cameras they have covering the urinals.”

🙂

UPDATE: A bunch of discussion and comments on this here at flyertalk and here at Infowars.