short for camera, a.k.a. webcam, Web cam, CAM can also refer to Computer-Aided Manufacturing

An inexpensive, simple video camera that sits on top of or next to your computer monitor, it is designed to send live and recorded video as well as still pictures over the Net to one or more users. It can also be a digital camera placed somewhere, anywhere, in the world, streaming video to a Web site (or other portable device) so that users can see live footage of certain events.

The "cam" suffix can be applied to many words to describe specialized cameras, such as a "nannycam," which is used inside a home to monitor a babysitter's activities.

Historical perspective: In 2013, The Washington Post reported the FBI can secretly activate any computer’s webcam and view a room without turning on the indicator light! And in 2014, according to documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, it was reported that the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of Internet users since at least 2008. The documents laid out a surveillance program code-named “Optic Nerve” that gathered still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases. The program, an effort to improve the intelligence agencies’ facial recognition software, appears to have chosen images randomly. In 2008 alone, GCHQ collected webcam stills from more than 1.8 million Yahoo accounts around the world, including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications.

By 2018, the notion of using a cam to spy on the nanny evolved yet again. According to The New York Times, Silicon Valley elites aren’t just banning their kids from looking at smartphones and tablets, they’re also demanding their nannies abstain too. The same parents often want updates through the day on how their kids are doing, so parents spy on each other’s help and children, and share photos on social media of nannies caught with a phone in hand. One mom followed her nanny around parks for so much of the day that the caregiver finally said, “I don’t think you need a nanny,” and quit.

NetLingo Classification: Net Hardware