The answer is no, yes and definitely! Let me explain. The TV is composed mainly of two sensory related technologies, specifically sound and sight. One is audio (sound) the other is video (sight). Let's examine video. Video technology, or the movie, was first invented by Thomas Alva Edison. During his experiments, Edison found that the light images coming in through the camera lens and out through the projector to the screen were identical as both used light to work. In a TV, the same principles are at work. The camera lens is a "light gathering" device which takes the light that hits it and converts it into an electrical signal. The signal is sent over the cable lines to your TV which converts it back to an image which is then projected onto the back of the TV screen. Because of this use of light at both ends of the TV transmission system, a camera can be used as a TV monitor (screen) and a TV monitor (screen) can be used as a camera.
To prove that your TV can and does act as a "light gathering" camera, all you need to do is the following:
1) Get a flashlight with fresh batteries.
2) In a completely dark room, ideally at night, get right up to your TV with the lights out and the TV turned off.
3) Place the flashlight right on the TV screen.
4) Turn the flashlight on and hold it with the light facing the TV for at least 10 seconds
5) Turn the flashlight off first, then quickly remove it from the TV screen.
What you see, where the flashlight had been placed, is proof of the "light gathering" capabilities of a TV screen. I prefer to call it the "TV Screen Camera." This is a very simple test, but with more advanced techniques and equipment, such as the kind the cable companies have developed and now possess, they can get a clear picture of what is going on in your room. With their advanced tools they gather light that bounces off of things and people in the room, which hits the TV screen, and presents an image back to them. Now you know it works. Getting on to the question of can your cable company see you through your TV screen. It depends.
The first question is whether you have a cable box or not. If you do not, you in all likelihood have nothing to be concerned about. Were the cable company to attempt to look in on any TV screen just by plugging into their cable, they would see every TV screen transmitting from every one of their subscribers' TVs, resulting in nothing but a great homogeneous light or whiteout like in a snow storm. That is useless to look in on. So in this type of cable hookup the answer is no, your cable company cannot see you through your TV screen. On the other hand, if you have a cable box, the story is quite different. With a cable box, the cable companies have given you an "address." This address is needed to differentiate you from every other subscriber on their network so they can know where to send an 'on-demand' movie that you may have just ordered. Inside that cable box is a chip that allows the cable company technicians to pinpoint and single you out of the thousands of other subscribers.
If "they" want, as they do with 'on-demand' movies, at a moments notice they can create a selective connection between their main office equipment and 'their' cable box which is connected to your TV and your TV screen. Remember what we learned earlier about a TV screen being used as a camera. Now, with their selective connection using their cable box, they can look in to your room using your TV's screen as a camera. So in this type of cable hookup the answer is yes, your cable company can see you through your TV screen. But this type of cable company viewing of you often results in a poor picture at their end. The image is not clear, not sharp and not well defined.
This glitch has bothered the cable companies for years. Ever since this technology has been developed, advertisers have pressured the cable companies to determine where to best spend their advertising dollars. Many times the cable company could not determine which brand soda can someone was drinking. They couldn't clearly read the brand of potato chip being munched. But that has all changed in the last few years with the creation of High Definition Television or HDTV. All other TV's eat the dust of HDTV especially when it comes to the cable company TV screen cameras. Now, for the first time, if you have a HDTV, the cable company definitely has a high definition view into your room through your TV screen!
So be careful what you wear and do, you never know when "Big Brother" may be looking.
I think that it is highly likely that people can be viewed through their TVs. With GPS and micro technology (look at cell phones) I bet putting cameras and surveillance devices and all kinds of other stuff along with pay-per-view connections can easily be incorporated into tvs with a cable box connection, newer flat screen and hdtvs. I wonder why they are making cable mandatory by February 17, 2009? Is there some national security, Patriot Act law that allows the CIA and other government agencies to look into our homes and monitor what's going on? Have they required electronics producers to add or activate certain configurations and components to make monitoring possible for our own "national security"? I believe so to one degree or another. That's the cost of being around in these and coming times. If you have a computer camera, fuggedaboutit.