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What Is a Digital Watchdog?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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A digital watchdog is typically some type of security device, usually one that is motion-activated or that includes a system for video monitoring and recording. The name comes from the idea that such devices can enhance security for a location in a way that eliminates or replaces the use of actual watchdogs. A variety of devices can be used for this purpose, though they typically include hardware to monitor an area through security cameras and digital video recorder (DVR) devices. This term can also be a shortened version of “digital watchdog group,” which refers to an organization that watches over digital technology for abusive uses of devices or software.

The basic idea behind a digital watchdog is typically a type of electronic device that can be used to enhance security in a particular area. In this way it is meant to theoretically mimic the use of an actual watchdog to patrol and secure an area. These devices do not necessarily have the interactive or deterrent capabilities of an actual dog, however, but are still used within the security industry. Signs or other objects are often used to indicate the use of digital watchdog technology to potential intruders, often meant to deter possible trespassing or other criminal activity.

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A digital watchdog usually includes hardware to monitor and record video of a particular location. This often includes one or more security cameras, which may be concealed or in plain sight as a form of deterrence, as well as monitors to view the camera feeds. DVRs and similar hardware are frequently used to record the images captured by these cameras. This use of digital watchdog technology allows for increased security in an area, and gives security professionals the ability to review footage of a criminal act or other incident.

The term “digital watchdog” can also refer to a watchdog group that monitors various types of digital technology for potential abusive uses of that technology. Such groups have been established to watch over powerful organizations or technologies. A digital watchdog group typically evaluates new forms of hardware or software that are developed for use by consumers or commercial industries. When new digital technology is introduced that has the potential for abuse, such as intrusive security software or hardware that may eliminate consumer choice, then these groups typically provide warnings about such possible abuses to news outlets and consumer advocates.

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