People Staring at Computers project automatically posts Apple Store customer photos

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by 0dev, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. 0dev macrumors 68040

    0dev

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    #1
    Secret agents raid Apple store webcam 'artist'

    The US Secret Service has raided the home of an artist who collected images from webcams in a New York Apple store.

    Kyle McDonald is said to have installed software that photographed people looking at laptops then uploaded the pictures to a website.

    Mr McDonald said he had obtained permission from a security guard to take photos inside the store.

    Apple declined to comment. However, the Secret Service confirmed that its electronic crime division was involved.

    A spokesperson told the BBC that the investigation was taking place under US Code Title 18 /1030 which relates to "Fraud and related activity in connection with computers."

    Offences covered by the legislation carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

    Writing on Twitter, Mr McDonald said: "@secretservice just stopped by to investigate [web address removed] and took my laptop. Please assume they're reading any e-mails you send me."

    No arrests had been made in the case as of 8 July.
    Staring

    Kyle McDonald's images were uploaded to a page on the blogging site Tumblr.

    In the description of People Staring at Computers, the project is described as: "A photographic intervention. Custom app installed around NYC, taking a picture every minute and uploading it if a face is found in the image.

    "Exhibited on site with a remotely triggered app that displayed the photos full screen on every available computer."

    The site features a video and series of photographs, apparently showing shoppers trying-out computers.

    Comments on the individuals by visitors to the site are also attached to the images.

    Mr McDonald, writing on Twitter, said that he had been advised not to comment on the case by the online freedom group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


    Source: BBC News

    My opinion on this is that taking photos of someone without permission, especially if those photos are then uploaded online, is a crime, and these actions by the SS were proper and correct, though he obviously shouldn't get 20 years for it.
     
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #2
    No, it isn't

    You can not prevent people from taking photos of you ,especially if you are in a public arena
     
  3. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    #3
    There's a difference between, say, someone taking a photo while you're in the background, and someone rigging a bunch of computers in a shop to systematically snap and send 'em, as it were.

    Clearly it is a violation of the law or the SS would not be involved. That part isn't debatable.
     
  4. jsm4182 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Location:
    Beacon, NY
    #4
    Actually under the law they are the same thing. In a public place someone can take a picture of you wether you know they are taking the picture or not.

    I don't see how there can be any criminal charges. Apple could ban him from their stores and try a civil suit, but he didn't break any laws.
     
  5. codymac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    #5
    Except that the areas in question were not public.
     
  6. jsm4182 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Location:
    Beacon, NY
    #6
    When talking about privacy(such as having your picture unknowingly taken) public means anyplace open to the public, which includes a privately owned retail store.
     
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #7
    No but they're in public. There is a difference.

    Taking someone's photo in public is one thing. Installing an app that takes a photo of someone and uploads it to a site is what I think the SS is focusing on here. When you're standing in front of a computer within a retail establishment I think it is reasonable to believe your face is not being captured by the machine itself. If there were a sign posted indicating what was going on then I think that this would have been less of an issue if an issue at all.

    On the other hand, I think of the site People of Wal-Mart and wonder why that is not a problem for anyone. It seems reasonable to compare the two; both are instances of people having their photos taken without permission in a retail establishment and uploaded to the internet.

    I don't think this guy should get 20 years but he should get something for the installation of an application that sends data outside the store. I also wonder if Apple will limit internet access on a go-forward.
     
  8. jsm4182 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Location:
    Beacon, NY
    #8
    Before I say anything else I just want to say I don't agree with what he did, I'm just saying he didn't do anything illegal.

    How is what he did any different from, like you said, People of Wal-Mart and the other similar sites, or the store having security cameras watching what they are doing, or even better market research companies that do things like this.

    People shouldn't be allowed to install software like this on demo units, but there is nothing stopping them from doing it and no where is it posted saying you can't.
     
  9. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #9
    To me, the difference is the intimacy of how the photo was taken. I'm sure peopleofwalmart.com would have (subjectively) "even better" shots if more of their picture takers would walk up and get a closer shot, but it seems like for most folks, there's an inherent personal space with others that you don't cross, even if they're strangers. The Apple pictures were taken within that personal space. To me, that makes them feel weird.

    I'm sure there's no legal distinction between a photo in public take "from a few feet away" vs "18 inches your face" though.

    [​IMG]

    and

    [​IMG]
     
  10. fehhkk macrumors 6502a

    fehhkk

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #10
    I think the whole problem, is the guy stealthily installing an App that takes pictures automatically. I don't think any Apple store would consent to anyone installing software in their demo machines.

    Another thing is going into the store, and snapping pictures of people's mugs.
     
  11. localoid, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

    localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Location:
    America's Third World
    #11
    The TechDirt article has more details on how easily this was done...

    See also: Electronic Crime, and/or Art?

     
  12. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #12
    Watch this video. Perfectly legal:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBARi09je8&feature=related

    Now, using the computer with spyware may be another thing though.
     
  13. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    #13
    The problem is the "computer hacking" part. If Apple doesn't do anything, people will go like, "Hey, wanna go -F- around with the Apple store computer?" and then they'll do that. I have no idea what hackers would be able of doing, but I'm sure it could head in the wrong direction. Plus, it could cause a lot of PR problems for Apple ... "Apple computers take pictures of it's visitors - stay away!"

    I'm sure Apple could seriously get sued.

    Anyways, I don't think he should get 20 year for it. (Is casey anthony even getting that much time??:eek: )
     
  14. singlestick macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Southern California
    #14
    What happened to the days when a photographer had to get a release before a person's phot could be used?

    Yeah, 20 years would be harsh, but I don't see that Apple can let people install stuff on their computers or take photographs of customers without their express consent.

    Interesting exhibit, though.
     
  15. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #15
    it totally depends on what the photo is being used for. If it is for editorial (non commercial) purposes and was taken in a public location releases are not required.
     
  16. pcmxa macrumors regular

    pcmxa

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    ABQ
    #16
    You can take photos of people in public and publish them in books, print them and hang them in galleries, load them up to the internet without their permission. The New York State supreme court recently ruled in favor of Philip-lorca Dicorcia when he was sued by a Hasidic Jew for taking his picture without his knowledge. The picture was featured in exhibitions and in a book.

    You have no expectation of privacy (legally) in public spaces. For photographs this is nearly absolute, the only exceptions I have heard of is using concealed cameras to photograph people who belong to protected classes (children for example). Some states bar audio recording without both parties' consent. this is what "photographers" are being charged with when they film the police using their video cameras. It isn't the image it is the sound that puts them in violation of the law. Many states only require one party permission, which means I can record anything I want without telling the person I am recording them (but I can't tap their phone without their permission). Even in the two party states, I could stand next to you while you talked on a cell phone and write down everything you say. You don't have an expectation of privacy, just the right not to be audio recorded without giving permission in those states.

    in this case, the secret service is involved because he messed with telecommunications equipment, that apparently were crossing state lines, essentially planting a bug on Apple's machines without their permission, not because photographs were taken.
     
  17. codymac, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

    codymac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    #17
    The photos were taken on private property and doing so falls under the legal concept of "conversion."* Had the photos been taken from outside the store, on a sidewalk or street, looking into the store - then fair game. Taking them inside the store, which is private property, for a non-editorial use, requires permission.

    If I take a photo of your house and sell it to a photo stock house, then what? I may have legally taken the photo, and you certainly don't own the photo any more than I own your house, but I've used your house for my personal gain. I've converted it for personal gain.

    This is precisely the reason that professionals get property releases and model releases.

    Don't take my word for it. Feel free to contact the ASMP and ask.

    Regardless, that's all a civil matter, and this guy has been criminally charged.

    * ETA: I say this as a photographer, not a lawyer.
     
  18. pcmxa, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

    pcmxa macrumors regular

    pcmxa

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    ABQ
    #18
    I agree it is always good to get permission but in the US at least according a number of sites it is legal to take photos on private property, particularly if it is open to the public, unless they specifically ban it.

    and

    and

    So, since this was art (and that is generally recognized as not being commercial (even when being sold for bucket loads of cash) I don't think this is a privacy issue, unless Apple has a "No Photo" policy.
     
  19. codymac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    #19
    It really depends on the photographer's use. If it's art, and produced for art's sake, then it's generally assumed to be OK. If it was done for a trade purpose, then it's not OK and can fall under a conversion argument.

    If the photographer here had so much as a click ad on his site, I could see a conversion argument being successful.

    Rule of thumb is: outdoors: OK, indoors: get permission

    I'm not sure the site you meant but could only find a similar UK site listed. As a former member, I'd stick to what the ASMP tells me as far as US law goes. This sort of thing is one of the reasons I originally joined.
    ;)

    Criminal prosecution seems largely for punitive purposes here. It will be interesting to see what happens to this guy.

    Every Mac at the local Fry's always has photo booth photos of... people looking at computers up on the screen.
     

Share This Page