Are you concerned about your phone camera(s)?


I bet all of you cover the cameras on your computers. But what do you do about your phone cameras? In most cases those should surely be an even bigger privacy concern than a webcam on a pc, yet I personally have barely met anyone covering their smartphone cameras with a tape. So do people not care enough or is it actually more difficult for anyone to get access to a smartphone camera (making the precautions abundant)?

Android 12 allows you to disable access to cameras and the mic. Do you think it actually brings anything or is this setting like a LED on a webcam which can be controlled by the hacker anyways? Because in this case the only option you have is to remove the corresponding hardware parts from the phone, right?

I removed them all physically

Your pc webcam is in a static position, which most likely sees your face, and the entire room all the time. A phone is mostly staring at a ceiling or blackness (when inside your pocket). A pc typically also has more apps and attack surface

It’s a risk I consider, but it’s worth noting that the permissions system on mobile devices is something almost entirely missing on desktop operating systems, which likely keeps out most bad actors as opposed to PC webcams.
I trust that the permissions and settings toggles are doing their jobs, though I do wish manufacturers would add an extra LED or something that would light up when either camera is in use, just for added reassurance.

i don’t use a Personal Surveillance Device (aka smart phone) except to listen to music and that happens approximately never - and when i’m not using it, it’s stored where it can’t hear or see anything

BINGO - as you essentially said, that option means nothing

beyond the mistake of having Big Tech apps on a phone (Fuckbook, Twatter, etc.), there’s the baseband firmware which is proprietary and apparently full of security issues and which has low-level access to some of the hardware and there’s nothing that i know of that you can do about it because it’s what provides calling, among other things - the situation with PC’s isn’t much better, if it’s any better at all, but at least mitigating the firmware issues seems to be quite possible, though potentially quite expensive depending on the route you pursue

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I stopped worrying about it my main issue was constant surveillance this wasn’t disproven. However it was brought to my attention that constant surveillance would require an enormous amount of data and would be unfeasible. The amount of data this would require was many many times more than the largest data centers we have today. Logically it seems to me like this disproved it. So I then started to worry about remote activation of my cameras. I don’t expect to be targeted by hackers nor do I expect the government to care what I in particular do. Regardless I still use Fedora and Graphene for privacy benefits and make use of any permission toggle available to me for cameras and mics. I might even go as far as to cover my laptop camera and use a separate logitech camera. But I would never cover my phone camera. I need it a lot of the time so if there had to be one there it would be a slider cover. I consider this threat too insignificant to spend mental resources on and I’m sure this is the case for many others. Just pick your battles we can’t win em all and there should be laws in place to stop the US from spying in general en masse. This camera cover and mic blocking solution is a bandaid one and the government spying is the root issue that needs to be dealt with.

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The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) | WIRED

as for processing all that data, obviously that cannot be done by humans, but AI could

This argument is reaching points of insanity we shouldn’t be reaching paranoid schizo levels. For most people this is not something they should worry about. The only thing that can stop government surveillance are rules and regulations. We need to be lobbying for pro privacy laws and bills for the US. Whistle blowers like Edward Snowden and many others whom I don’t know have paved the way for us to realize, who violated our rights, and how our rights have been violated. I strongly urge anyone willing to fight for this cause to listen to him. He is a much better resource than some rando on the internet. But hey if this rando can improve your life I’ll consider that a win in my book.


you’re posting that most people shouldn’t worry about privacy/security… in the Privacy and Security forum

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Questions that start with how do I hide from NSA, or NSA is spying on me etc. aka government threat models are not something that are discussed or covered here.

Also wanted to say that removing microphones is pointless in Android. Read why from the below source:


To be honest I’m more concerned of the microphone. My phone cameras won’t typically show you anything interesting apart from my face. Which in case you are targeting me specifically chances are you already know it.

GrapheneOS which I use does provide software switches for both the microphone and the cameras which I keep disabled until I need them. Of course if your phone gets infected with sophisticated malware taking advantage of a zero-day to obtain root access this won’t help you.

But I don’t consider myself a high enough target to worry about that kind of targeted attack. And in case that you are, I would argue you should probably not be using a smartphone at all. As usual with stuff like this the question you should ask yourself is from what you are trying to protect from.

I concur, a lot of people who fall into this mindset, are exposing themselves in other ways without realizing. For example: posting vlogs on Facebook, or having calls on Discord. Why would a 3 letter agency spy on you when they could just grab a 3 year long log of your group chat. That way they know how you sound, how you think, what you think, and they get information about the people whom you associate with. A government threat model is an enormous task but for, once again, most people this will create a blind spot, opening them up to smaller attacks they’ve never even considered.

Extra Sauce.

Average Joe: "To spy on us at such a scale they would have to be gigantic! I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like the answer is right under our noses. Zooms camera out to show a helicopter view of the NSA

I cover them with a webcam cover. As for physically removing them, I’m not very concerned because my threat model doesn’t require that effort.

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I’m wondering why you brought up NSA as I did not mention it in my post. I do realize that with the government threat model in mind you would not be using a smartphone in the way most people do anyways.

I did not specify it before (my bad!) but I guess my personal concern here is the use of the recorded data for identity theft/blackmail/etc by a hacker. So I was wondering if people are in general concerned about such a potential threat.

Anyhow, thanks a lot for the attached links!

In a standard Stock Android, System policies make it literally impossible to"hack"your microphone/camera whatever. An exception would be for 0days in the Android kernel.

Removing microphones/cameras fall under sophisticated threat models where governments issue bugged phones.


If I thought the camera was compromised then that means the phone was compromised and I wouldn’t use it. So either I trust the camera or I don’t trust the device at all.

I generally focus on protecting the device from known threats and lower the attack surface for zero days (lockdown mode on iOS, filtered DNS via NextDNS, etc).

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I also want to stress the importance of software security in this regard, often times people will neglect that for software “freedom”. Due to Android’s strong permission model, it’s very less likely that an attacker could gain access to phone’s camera given users are not millennial boomers or something. Same can be said for IOS. Unfortunately the same security is not provided by the other options like Lineage, Linux phones or Rooted devices. However I do not intent to start a band war but for the purposes of making an informed decision we need to be aware of the limitations.


I use a screen protector with a second glass to control the selfie camera, which works like a laptop webcam cover, you slide the cover as you wish.
Not affiliated with the company and I’m sure you can find cheaper alternatives but I use their screen protector and I’m very satisfied so I’m sharing my honest opinion
Its called PanzerGlass™ CamSlider®

two very simple ways to solve this problem:

  1. there are privacy shutters for the phone camera just like there are for the PC webcams.

  2. get a faradey beg for your phone and only pull it out when needed. that will limit the opportunity bad actors can acess your camera.

true but there is the metter of damage controll to consider. assuming someone compramised my phone and and i figured it out only 2 hours later. i could have at list limit the amount of data he had on me if i took pro-active messures