Secret Service Descends on Artist For Mildly Creepy Public Photography

from the must-be-a-slow-crime-day dept

So this is one of those interesting scenarios that really tests the boundary between what people find to be socially unacceptable behavior versus what is actually illegal under current law. Artist Kyle McDonald put a strange art project into practice when he installed what amounts to surveillance software on the public computers at an Apple store and used the images collected to create a presentation that he hoped would give us, by the facial expressions captured, insight into our relationship with the computers we use:

Image from Notcot

An interesting project that borders on creepy. But it is illegal? Apparently, the Secret Service is now involved:
On three days in June, McDonald's program documented people staring at computers in Apple stores. Since the stores wiped their computers every night, he had to go back in and reinstall the program each day he took photos. He uploaded a collection of the photos to a Tumblr blog, and last Sunday he set up 'an exhibition' at the Apple stores. During the unauthorized event at the Apple stores on West 14th Street and in Soho, when people looked at an Apple store machine, they saw a picture of themselves. Then they saw photos of other people staring at computers. Amazingly, nobody made a fuss. [...]

Over the course of the project, McDonald set up roughly 100 Apple store computers to call his servers every minute. That's a lot of network traffic, and he learned that Apple monitors traffic in its stores when he received a photo from a Cupertino computer of what appeared to be an Apple technician. The technician had apparently traced the traffic to the site McDonald used to upload the program to Apple Store computers; and installed it himself.

McDonald figured that Apple had decided the program wasn't a big deal. That was until four Secret Service men in suits woke him up on Thursday morning with a search warrant for computer fraud. They confiscated two computers, an iPod and two flash drives, and told McDonald that Apple would contact him separately.
Even more interesting than his project about how people perceive their relationship with their computer might be how people perceive the artist's actions here. Many people seem to be up in arms, and feel quite strongly that his actions were criminal and should be punished. But what crimes did he actually commit? None of the immediately obvious arguments would appear to be viable when you consider the facts of the situation:

1. Unauthorized access to a computer (hacking): The computers he used were open to the public, so no hacking there. Some might say that his program installation exceeded his allowed access, but I don't think customers are forced to sign any kind of agreement before using the computers, and even if they were, it is not currently the law (yet) that violating a Terms of Service agreement constitutes hacking.

2. Violation of Privacy: To argue a violation of privacy, in most places you would have first argue that the person videotaped had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the first place. Certainly, being in a public location, Kyle could have snapped pictures of those very same people with a handheld camera and, short of Apple themselves giving him the boot off the premises for annoying their customers, there would be no legal consequences to doing so. Additionally, it's highly likely that Apple (or the mall itself) had their own cameras present for security purposes. All in all, this would appear to be a nonstarter as well.

3. Wiretapping Laws: Someone might be inclined to link this to cases we've seen recently where police officers charge the people videotaping them with violating state wiretapping laws. They would be forgetting, however, that wiretapping statutes are usually restricted to audio. Still pictures means no wiretapping.

Now, despite my admittedly snarky sub-heading, it's also not clear that the Secret Service necessarily overreacted in this case. You have to realize that an investigating Apple employee found that a person had been (for several days no less!) installing a program on multiple Apple computers that called home repeatedly, presumably with information gleaned from those computers. Without knowing exactly what the program was or its intended purpose, it would be very reasonable to expect the worst. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some customers log into websites or otherwise do things on a public computer that a keylogger would love to pick up. Hopefully, though, when they discover the true nature of the program, they'll realize it was all a misunderstanding and give the guy back his expensive electronics. Other legal experts seem to agree, but plenty of others are up in arms about this.

What do you think? Is what he did a crime, or merely creepy? Neither? Both? If it's a crime, what crime? If not, should it be?


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    rw (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Secret Service?

    How should the Secret Service be involved?

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:23am

      Re: Secret Service?

      > How should the Secret Service be involved?

      USSS jurisdiction involves a whole host of electronic crimes that fall under the general term "hacking".

       

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        DannyB (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:44am

        Re: Re: Secret Service?

        Back in the early days of SCO vs. IBM, SCO accused IBM of "hacking" into SCO's anonymous FTP server (which did not require a login) to download documents that SCO made publicly available, but which undermined SCO's case.

        This "hacking" is a serious crime. :-)

         

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      Old Fool (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:30am

      Re: Secret Service?

      I was thinking the same, Police perhaps, but I would not call an Apple store part of the American security shield.

      Whatever next? TSA at the door?

       

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      Dave, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

      Re: Secret Service?

      Patriot Act - the SS has been mandated to head our electronics crimes taskforce under the DHS in a similar capacity to their original mandate around the US treasury - Could you imagine how many pictures of credit cards could have been captured courtesy of Apple Store's awesome iTouch/Square walking credit card terminal system. If a single image of a credit card was captured and transmitted in violation of PCI, this guy should get fined or some time or something - but honestly it is pretty creepy without trying to find legal repercussions.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Wow, was this guy doing drugs when he came up with this idea?

    Without a doubt it violates all sorts of laws, from privacy to hacking (installing malicious software without permission).

    Further, it raises bigger questions about the security of computers purchased from stores. Can you imagine if this software was install on every apple computer sold, and the guy could harvest images from those computers at any time?

    I can see why the Secret Service showed up. If you cannot see the crime in this, you really missed the boat!

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:10am

      Re:

      privacy

      Public place. No expectation of privacy.

      hacking

      Public computers. Software was only "malicious" if you assume the conclusion (circular logic).

      Further, it raises bigger questions about the security of computers purchased from stores. Can you imagine if this software was install on every apple computer sold, and the guy could harvest images from those computers at any time?

      Huh? Have you ever been in an Apple store? They have demo models on the floor for the public to use. He wasn't installing them on computers in the back that were for sale (how would he?).

      If you cannot see the crime in this, you really missed the boat!

      Did you even read the story? I really have to wonder . . .

       

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        Spalmer, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re: public?

        Hardware owned by a private business located on private property is now "public"? I don't think I've ever seen a sign that says you can't throw the demo ipads on the floor, so by your logic that would be okay to do?

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:39am

          Re: Re: Re: public?

          I've ever seen a sign that says you can't throw the demo ipads on the floor, so by your logic that would be okay to do?

          I'm pretty sure vandalism is a crime, regardless of whether or not there is a sign. A charge of "hacking", however, requires a determination of whether or not a person had legitimate access to the machine in the first place. He did, therefore there was no hacking. If they had put up a sign, or made him sign a ToS, or otherwise blocked the installation of software, and he had gotten around those provisions, Apple might have a case.

           

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            PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

            I'm not sure that the unauthorized access charge is as bogus as you seem to believe. No he didn't have to sign anything before using said computer, but his use of the computers far exceeded the what would be considered "normal" for a display model at a store. It seems to me (and I don't know if the law agrees) that providing a floor model for demo purposes only allows the use of that floor model for what is generally considered to be demo purposes. Installing software that takes pictures of people who use the computer falls far outside what most people would expect to be authorized. The nightly wipe-outs at least shows that Apple did not intend store customers to be able to install software for long periods of time. I think there is a strong argument to be made that on those basis alone, what that guy did should be illegal.

            On the issue of privacy, I think it's a little more complicated. Yes you are in public, but when I use a demo computer, my expectation is not that it will snap a picture of me. If that was my expectation (let's say if there was a sign on the computer that stated that it would/might take my picture) I would probably act differently. (avoid the demo computer for one thing) Similarly, if I see someone pointing a camera at me, I might choose to not act the same way. I have started believing that privacy is a continuum. The same way that long-term GPS tracking is not the same as short-term GPS tracking, snapping a picture secretly to put it for public viewing is not the same as snapping a picture openly for your private collection. While one might reduce my privacy only by a small amount, the other one reduces my privacy by a large amount.

             

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              Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              Are you telling me that the Apple employees are really so stupid that if they do not want software installed they can't possibly set permissions to not allow that?
              Says a bit about the Apple group to me.
              I have to agree with Mr Rhodes here. It wasn't against the permissions so its fair game for the demo machine. Either that or the Apple store group is incredibly not smart. Take your pick.

              As for the public place and demo computer taking a picture of you, stores have cameras everywhere these days. You are being recorded. Whether it is by the demo computer itself or just the stores normal cameras makes no difference in my mind. Do you avoid all stores like Wal-Mart, Meijer, Best Buy, and just about every other decent retail store (and party store) because they have cameras on the ceiling?

               

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                PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

                The fact that the computer was not locked down does not mean that anything is fair game. I think it's pretty clear that installing random stuff to see if it works on the machine is the expectation. Apple definitely did not expect that a user would daily install a program that would take pictures of its customers and send those to a remote site. A good test is probably: If they had seen you do it, would they have stopped you? Given that they sent the Secret Service, the answer appears to be yes. This is definitely falling outside the bounds of how one is expected to use a demo computer.

                "As for the public place and demo computer taking a picture of you, stores have cameras everywhere these days."

                Well yes. But the expectation is that those camera feeds will not be posted on the internet for the world to see.

                 

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                  Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:01pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

                  "Well yes. But the expectation is that those camera feeds will not be posted on the internet for the world to see."

                  I agree that there is an expectation in the minds of many but this situation begs the question, should it be expected? I don't think the law as it stands says that it is illegal to stream security feeds. I don't believe its illegal to publicly show footage from public places for noncommercial purposes.

                  When looking into whether or not its legal I found this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkFprH8ix1c and the instructions work. Kinda screws with your expectations doesn't it?

                   

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                  JEDIDIAH, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 8:51am

                  Installs are part of the product experience.

                  > The fact that the computer was not locked down does not mean that anything is fair game.

                  Of course it does. It has to be. Otherwise you end up with situations much like this where someone gets arrested and charged with a crime for merely doing a proper demo of a product sitting in a store.

                  If the perms aren't locked down, ANY ONE can install stuff. They might even want to do this with non-malicious intent. They just might want to show granny how easy it is to install stuff in MacOS.

                  No. The real question here is why this issue has never come up yet in all of the years that Apple have been running these stores. Why haven't they gotten victimized by some guy installing modern versions of Mac Puke?

                  Total amateur hour here.

                   

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              Eugene (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              "but his use of the computers far exceeded the what would be considered "normal" for a display model at a store."
              This presumes you know how both a)how Apple defines "normal" use of their display computers and b) how the law defines "normal" use of a public computer.

              I am absolutely certain that you know neither of those things in actuality.

               

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              nasch (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              I would say the nightly wipes indicate that Apple expects customers to modify the machines.

               

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                Michael Long (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

                No, the nightly rebuilds are because Apple expects people to screw up the machines: renaming files and folders, messing with the samples in iPhoto and iMovie and Garage Band, deleting junk, changing settings, and doing things that generally, over time, would result in a crappy demo experience. (Think display computers at Best Buy.)

                 

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              dwg, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              Yea, what Killer Tofu says is right: it's not your "expectation of privacy" with regard to the computers, it's your expectation of privacy in a public place. The fact that the computers may be privately owned isn't relevant--it's that you're standing in the middle of a bunch of strangers, any of whom might be taking your picture at any time, in a mall with cameras everywhere, buying things with your credit card, etc. etc. The Supremes have held forth on when one has a reasonable expectation of privacy ad nauseam, and let me tell you, hoss--it's not a whole lot of often. Think you have a reasonable expectation that someone won't rifle your trash for private documents that you may have shredded and covered in bacon grease? Think again.

               

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            Michael Long (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

            "McDonald set up roughly 100 Apple store computers to call his servers every minute. That's a lot of network traffic..."

            I'm pretty sure theft of service is also a crime.

             

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              HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              I'm pretty sure he the software was only at a few stores at a time so his network traffic would be minimal (the software was smart enough to only upload pictures with faces in them so it wouldn't necessarily send a picture every minute)

              But this is the most credible reason he may have broken the law yet.

               

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              dwg, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              What is "theft of service?" Can you provide a citation for a definition of that which would apply to what this guy did?

               

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              nasch (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 8:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: public?

              I'm pretty sure theft of service is also a crime.

              If the prosecution/plaintiff can prove he wasn't authorized to use that service maybe. Since the machines were networked, and he had free access to a user account without any particular restrictions, I think that would be very difficult to prove.

               

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        btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re:

        > Public computers. Software was only "malicious"
        > if you assume the conclusion

        They're not really public computers. They're floor models that Apple allows potential customers to use in order to consider making a purchase.

        That doesn't mean they've either expressly or impliedly opened them up to whatever use anyone who walks through the door wants to put them to.

        Neither have they given anyone any express or implied authorization to install software or alter their systems in any way.

         

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          Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yet, the fact that they wiped and reloaded all the PCs every night shows that they knew it happened and didn't mind it. Plus the fact that the software was found and left alone. Both of those suggest that the Apple store in question has no problem with you altering their system.

           

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            btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            > Yet, the fact that they wiped and reloaded
            > all the PCs every night shows that they
            > knew it happened and didn't mind it.

            It doesn't show either one of those things. The fact that they do it every night suggests it's a prophylactic measure put in place as a matter of policy, not that they knew about this specific intrusion.

            It also doesn't show that they "didn't mind it" at all. It says nothing about they feel about this guy's actions one way or another.

             

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              Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Actually byte^me points out that Apple stores allow people to install software so they can properly test it. And Benny6Toes points out that the guy had permission to do this. And with Apple's known compatibility issues, I would expect a company like that to allow me to test my software on the PC for compatibility before I purchase.

               

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                PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Yes. But he did not install the software in order to test it. He installed the software on many computers repeatedly (after wipe-outs) in order to use it to transmit information about patrons of the store. This most definitely falls outside the bounds of what Apple is intending when it makes its laptop available for demo. This definitely smells like he exceeded his authorized access.

                 

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                  Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:14am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  This definitely smells like he exceeded his authorized access.

                  Unless they clarified what his access actually was, good luck to them in court when they try to prove it. Vague laws are bad (and often unconstitutional) laws.

                   

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            HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            They probably have software that does it automatically. People do stupid stuff with demo computers, you don't want someone judging a your brand by some floor model that has a virus because of someone visiting a bad website.

            Best Buy has software that doesn't allow any changes to be saved through a reboot. So every time you turn it off and on again it is exactly the same as when you installed the protection software in the first place. I assume Apple does something similar.

             

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Neither have they given anyone any express or implied authorization to install software or alter their systems in any way.

          I don't know... it's a tough question. Hacking means accessing a computer you are not authorized to access. In this case, he absolutely was authorized to access it, with no stated restrictions.

          So one could argue that he was completely authorized, and i'm not sure how you could make a hacking charge stick. When given open access to a computer, why would it be legally implicit that installing software was still "hacking"? What other things are/aren't considered hacking when using an open system, and how do people identify them? It would be a legal nightmare...

           

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            PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I think this is where the "reasonable person" test can come up. It is commonly understood that demo hardware is provided to demo the product. It is also commonly understood that some limited amount of web-surfing/use is acceptable. What he did falls way outside what a reasonable person would consider to be the intended/acceptable use of a floor model.

            Think of it this way: If you walk up to me and ask if you can borrow my cellphone to make a call and I say yes, calling your aunt in the next city for 5-10 minutes is acceptable. On the other hand if you proceed to make an hour long long-distance call across the world, that is not acceptable and I could probably sue you for it. (Evidence might be an issue but let's leave that aside) Why is that? We don't have a contract after all. The reason is simply that there are norms outside of written law and contracts and if you violate those norms in the course of using my property, you have cause me harm because implicit in my agreement to let you use my cellphone is that you won't make a long distance call without asking me first. That is a good thing because we don't want to have to write 100 page contracts for every interaction. All reasonable people understand that someone who lends you their cellphone is not authorizing you to make hour long international calls unless that was specified. Similarly, all reasonable people understand that the floor models are not to be used to snap pictures of patrons at a store before disseminating such pictures to the world.

             

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              HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ass u me

              If someone I don't know asks to use my phone I always ask where they are calling, usually I even put the number in myself just so I know the area code. Ethics, politeness and courtesy are not law. IANAL but if someone said can I use your phone and you said yes, then they call China I don't think you would have a leg to stand on to sue them.

               

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              Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Your average use on a comptuer =/= everybody else's average use. If they didn't want software installed, they would have prevented it through permissions. Its a pretty simple thing to set up. And as smart as the Apple people always seem to claim they are, it should be doubly easy for them.

               

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                PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:27pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Your average use on a comptuer =/= everybody else's average use."

                Why don't you answer my comment instead? My standard use of a computer undoubtedly does not match everybody else's average use. What I said was that there is a commonly held understanding of what is and isn't acceptable on floor model. It may not be unanimous, but one of the reasons why people felt this was creepy and weird and unacceptable is specifically because what that guy did violates common expectations and understandings.

                "If they didn't want software installed, they would have prevented it through permissions."

                I did not say they were against software being installed. I said they were against somebody installing monitoring software on their floor models every day after they wipe them. Also, just because your door is unlocked does not mean that I'm allowed to come in.

                 

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                  Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 6:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  First off, even if my door was unlocked, you would still be trespassing to get to it.

                  Second, standard use doesn't matter. If it is allowed on the floor model, then it isn't hacking. Creepy sure, but being creepy isn't against the law. As plenty of others who have been to apple stores have now pointed out in the comments, Apple welcomes you to install software to test things out. To me that shots your argument completely hollow. Whether a guy installed it more than once is completely irrelevant. It is either against the law or it isn't, and in this case it clearly isn't. Things are never legal until done X times, then they suddenly become illegal.

                   

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              nasch (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              What he did falls way outside what a reasonable person would consider to be the intended/acceptable use of a floor model.

              Perhaps, but I doubt that could be proven to be "unauthorized access" beyond reasonable doubt.

              If you walk up to me and ask if you can borrow my cellphone to make a call and I say yes... if you proceed to make an hour long long-distance call across the world, that is not acceptable and I could probably sue you for it.

              You can sue for anything, but you wouldn't win. I just did something you gave me permission to do (make a phone call with your phone). It's not my fault you gave me permission to do something you didn't intend for me to do. It's not illegal to be rude.

               

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                PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:35pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Perhaps, but I doubt that could be proven to be "unauthorized access" beyond reasonable doubt."

                As I said in another comment higher up, (Or in a previous version of this comment) I'm not a lawyer and so I don't know for sure whether this is illegal or not. However it does sound like something that is illegal or at the very least should be. I would guess Apple and those would have a much better shot in civil suits against that guy.

                "You can sue for anything, but you wouldn't win. I just did something you gave me permission to do (make a phone call with your phone). It's not my fault you gave me permission to do something you didn't intend for me to do. It's not illegal to be rude"

                The problem is not that you are rude. The problem is that when I give you permission to use my phone, there are a whole bunch of unspoken caveats. More specific examples: Using my phone as a hammer is not permitted. Using my phone to play fetch with your dog is not permitted. Yet, I told you you could use my phone. Now, admittedly, making a long-distance phone call might be a bit of a gray area. But the basic principle is that when you contract verbally or in writing, there are common expectations that are implicitly integrated in the contract unless you specify the opposite. When you violate those expectations, you are violating my property rights. Some of these are very clear cut while some others may be a bit more fuzzy. I think it's likely that what this guy did violates Apple's property rights. But I gladly admit it's probably fuzzy.

                 

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                  Any Mouse (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 1:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  'unspoken caveats' will rarely win you the day in a court of law. Just because you understood these things to be unspoken does not mean someone else did. Now, you are perfectly within your rights to ask for your phone back at any time, but I really doubt your legal theories, here.

                   

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                  nasch (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:16am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  More specific examples: Using my phone as a hammer is not permitted. Using my phone to play fetch with your dog is not permitted.

                  Because they damage the phone. If I ask to use your phone and then I use the nice hard flat back of it as a surface for writing something on a post-it note, or the reflective screen to check my hair, do you think that's illegal? Because I'm sure that isn't what you expected me to do either.

                   

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          HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "That doesn't mean they've either expressly or impliedly opened them up to whatever use anyone who walks through the door wants to put them to.

          Neither have they given anyone any express or implied authorization to install software or alter their systems in any way"

          I would say they have because doing so is not blocked. It is very easy to not allow a user account to install software I think by not restricting that ability you are giving implied authorization to install.

          Those computers are not just taken out of the box and put on display, they install the demo software and set up a demo account. If they didn't want you doing something its very easy to block it, by not blocking it they are allowing (and passively authorizing) you do it.

           

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        identicon
        Lewis, Aug 29th, 2011 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re:

        The software is malicious even if the artists intentions were not. Uploading photos every minute is a lot of bandwidth. A lot more than one customer is expected to use.

         

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      DannyB (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:56am

      Re:

      > installing malicious software without permission

      Is it malicious? That's a pretty slippery definition. Is a gun malicious? What about a crowbar? A hammer? Screwdriver?

      I guess all the people that use that exact same software to protect their stolen computers should also be in trouble for using malicious software.

      One man's malicious is another man's legitimate tool.



      > Can you imagine if this software was install on
      > every apple computer sold

      Yes, just imagine. He opens the boxes of each computer, unpacks them, plugs them in, starts them up, agrees to the EULA, waits, waits, eats lunch, waits some more, installs software, waits, shuts down, unplugs computer, repacks carefully into factory box. Then repeat on each computer in inventory.

      Demo units are not sold as new. They might not even get sold period.


      > and the guy could harvest images from those computers at any time?

      And clearly that would be a crime. At least it crosses far more serious lines.



      > I can see why the Secret Service showed up.

      I can't.



      > If you cannot see the crime in this, you really missed the boat!

      If you don't understand basic technology, you really missed the boat.



      I think a bigger question here is about installing software, probably without permission, onto multiple store demo units -- and reinstalling every day. Apple probably would not allow that without authorization. In any individual store (not just Apple) a sales droid might allow a potential customer to install, and then remove something. But doing such might also be a ploy to get malware installed onto a computer that survives beyond the "uninstall".

       

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    A.R.M. (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    Is this article another project, because I find it questionable that:
    -Apple would allow arbitrary access to any of its display models considering how protective the company is.

    -The article doesn't state the "artist" had the decency to even ask permission for the install.

    -Secret Service was involved.

    Now, perhaps this story is true, but it's really hard to believe anyone would have the balls to do such a thing...

    ...at an Apple store.

    That's just foolish considering the aggressive nature of the company that's more in the news for this behavior rather than its products.

    Should've used Walmart: better subjects and acceptance of the "art".

    On a personal note (with a sprinkle of troll): Those people do look like Mac users, don't they.
    >:)

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:13am

      Re:

      I find it questionable that:
      -Apple would allow arbitrary access to any of its display models


      You've never been in an Apple store, have you? =P Most of their floor space is taken up by demo machines . . .

       

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        byte^me (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re:

        Not only that, but Apple allows customers to install whatever they want on those machines since they are regularly re-imaged.

        For example, a few years ago my wife was looking at buying a new MacBook and wanted to test some software before buying it. The Apple store employee said it was fine so we tried it out. There were no restrictions on the computer, so we could do whatever we wanted.

        I doubt Apple has changed things since then. So, while I'm sure this guy didn't have approval, there was nothing to stop him from doing it either.

         

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          identicon
          Splamer, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So if a company regularly mops the floors does that mean people can reasonably assume that it's ok to urinate on them?

           

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            Rikuo (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Wait what? You're comparing a woman testing for software compatibility on a machine that's wiped every day (which she is allowed to do) to someone recklessly urinating on a floor in public (that's several laws broken there, such as indecent exposure and damage to private property)?

             

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              Michael Long (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "You're comparing a woman testing for software compatibility on a machine that's wiped every day..."

              ...with an individual repeatedly installing his own, private monitoring software on hundreds of computers over the course of several days?

               

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              Splamer, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The grandparent was comparing a customer installing software to check compatability to someone repeatedly installing software that covertly takes photos and then phones home and you don't have any problem with their analogy...

               

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              Splamer, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The grandparent was comparing a customer installing software to check compatability to someone repeatedly installing software that covertly takes photos and then phones home and you don't have any problem with their analogy...

               

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                JEDIDIAH, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 8:59am

                "wishful thinking" as an engineering methodology

                Yes. Because you need a legal standard that won't prevent normal authorized use of the system in case a local prosecutor decides to run amok and charge your grandma with a felony. When "engineering a system", you need to consider "corner cases" like these and account for them up front rather than just assuming that everything will be peachy keen.
                You need to design with worst case scenarios in mind rather than just depending on wishful thinking.

                Applies both to law and computing systems.

                 

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            Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You mean if it's Apple, or just any random company?

             

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            lucidrenegade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "So if a company regularly mops the floors does that mean people can reasonably assume that it's ok to urinate on them?"

            Hey Mike, can you add a "dumbass" button to the comments section?

             

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            Eugene (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well in order for that analogy to make sense, we'd have to be talking about the "Pee-Free Flooring Company" demo room, and gee, I don't know, answer your own question.

             

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              Splamer, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I thought this was an apple store, not a "covertly install software to spy on our customers" demo room...

               

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:07am

    opinion

    Hacking, no. As Chris pointed out, it's not hacking if you let people do whatever they want on your PC. While it would fit the Apple style to limit how you can test the demo PCs, it's not good for business. Plus, if Apple wiped the PCs every night, they knew people did things like this.

    Violation of privacy, no. It's a public store.

    Wiretapping, no. How can it be Wiretapping if there is no violation of privacy (real or perceived)?

    Ethical violation, yes. It's a violation of nerd rule 37 to install any software on someone else's PC without their permission.

     

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    Adam, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Suppose that Apple itself had done this to gage the reaction of its potential customers to their displayed computers. Would your view change, Mike?

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      Suppose you took two seconds to check the byline of the article and realized Mike didn't write this article. Would the person you questioned change, Adam?

       

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        Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:30am

        Re: Re:

        You're just mad because this means I'm a real TD writer now. ;)

         

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          Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Haha, so true. I think I have seen every single writer here be called Mike before. The only ones who might not have are the very rare writers. I have seen both Tims, nina paley, a few others, and now you all called Mike. Congrats on getting in to the club. =)

           

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        out_of_the_blue, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:32am

        Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

        and someone using it in a piece as "evidence" of a huge failure of intellect, and now "DH" here, I'm getting tired of this weenying little trick: MIKE, it's simply lousy ergonomically to put the author's name at the side rather than in the eye's obvious path as newspapers and other web-sites do. Don't blame readers if and when we miss it.

         

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          crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:41am

          Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

          I always thought it was used as evidence of a bot rather than a huge failure.

           

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          btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:41am

          Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

          > Don't blame readers if and when we miss it.

          Since you know where it is in order to complain about, I'm absolutely going to blame you if you miss it.

          If you're too abjectly lazy to look where you already know the author's name is before you complain about him, that's all on you, chief.

           

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          ComputerAddict (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:48am

          Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

          MIKE, it's simply lousy ergonomically to put the author's name at the side rather than in the eye's obvious path as newspapers and other web-sites do


          Yea how dare he use the same location as other forums / content management systems default location!

           

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            Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:43pm

            Re: Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

            Yea how dare he use the same location as other forums / content management systems default location!

            I want to highlight this idiotic statement, because it's important. This thought is borne of the same mind juices that produce "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear". It's an inability to recognize that the United States (and to some degree by extension, our North American neighbors) are built on a very simple concept: striving for the ideal.

            Using your logic, the Civil Rights movement of the 60's never should have happened, because those people had it waaaaaay better than when they were enslaved, so they shouldn't have been complaining. Based on your logic, Chinese and Irish railroad workers who were getting their heads kicked in while being prejudized against should have kept their mouths shut, because at least they weren't enduring a worse oppressive regime or a potato famine.

            Based on your logic, this country wouldn't progress, because we'd be so busy basking in our own unfinished business to ever reach a little further for the next rung on the ladder.

            Based on your logic, we'd never have had these freedoms to begin with if you had been in charge all those years ago.

            - Dark Helmet (FTW!)

            /everything is a remix!

             

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          Ben in TX (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:54am

          Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

          That is a really weak excuse. TD has used the same format for their blog for years, and the byline has always been to the left of the article. You fucked up and got called out. Rather than accept it like an adult, you admit your mistake but blame the layout of the page for your mistake and put the blame right back on the guys you so obviously despise.

          Your excuse is pathetic, as is your attempted defense of Apple. They deserve every bit of criticism they receive, and more IMHO.

           

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:40am

          Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

          "and someone using it in a piece as "evidence" of a huge failure of intellect, and now "DH" here, I'm getting tired of this weenying little trick: MIKE, it's simply lousy ergonomically to put the author's name at the side rather than in the eye's obvious path as newspapers and other web-sites do."

          First off, Blue Balls, I STILL like you, because of your firm commitment to the crazy.

          Secondly....the above is not a sentence. Please revise for grammar and syntax, write it out a hundred times and submit by the end of class.

          Thirdly....LOLwut?

           

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          Eugene (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:29am

          Re: Having been caught out with the "byline" trick,

          If you intend to specifically call out the author, it is your responsibility to know who that author is, regardless of the site's design.

           

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      Well, I don't know about Mike, but seeing as I'm the writer of the post, I'll respond:

      If Apple had done this, it would be even less of an issue. The "hacking" charge becomes even more ridiculous, since it's their own machine, and the privacy charge is weakened too, since I'm sure they already have security cameras up to do essentially the same thing.

       

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        Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        Apple did do this (technically). A store employee installed the software to machines once he found it.

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not clear if the mentioned employee was actually at the same store. I could have been an Apple security tech back at Evil Apple HQ (tm).

           

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            HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It says the tech was in Cupertino, CA. So its pretty clear that it wasn't at the store and was at one of Apple's tech centers or HQs

             

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            Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Fair enough. The article wasn't as clear as it could have been on a couple of points, but I will say that I think it is unlikely the artist would have thought it was "okay" if it weren't an employee of a store. Just a guess though.

             

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        PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:38pm

        Re: Re:

        I think it would definitely be a PR nightmare though. Consider the way people are reacting. Legal or not. This is really creepy.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    This is a job for the .... Secret Service!!!

    It's too sophisticated an operation for local police to deal with.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:26am

    This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

    The interesting part is the Apple / Secret Service relation: "told McDonald that Apple would contact him separately". -- I don't think it usual that the Secret Service is apprised of Apple corporate plans. Seems that whenever these corporations have a problem, they've a hot line to national Gestapo, not just the local police. Same as with Google and the alleged China hacking: went right to the NSA.

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:33am

      Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

      > The interesting part is the Apple / Secret
      > Service relation: "told McDonald that Apple
      > would contact him separately". -- I don't
      > think it usual that the Secret Service is
      > apprised of Apple corporate plans.

      The USSS relationship with Apple in this case is the same as there is between law enforcement and any potential victim of a crime.

      Of course they're not privy to what goes on behind closed doors at Apple. They're just telling the guy, "We're only here to look into a possible violation of federal law. If Apple decides to come after you civilly, that's up to them and you'll be hearing from them about it."

      It would be no different than if the local cops had arrested a robbery suspect and told the suspect "We're only prosecuting you for the crime. If the business owner wants to take civil legal action against you, he'll contact you separately."

       

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        Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:42am

        Re: Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

        Agreed. I don't see an issue here. Apple reported what they thought was computer fraud to the authorities; the authorities investigated.

         

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          LegitTroll (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:03am

          Re: Re: Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

          The question is; What happens now? What is the Secret service going to do about this "hacker". Guess we will just need to wait and see where the chips fall on this one.

           

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            btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

            > What is the Secret service going to do about this "hacker".

            The USSS isn't going to do anything other than turn the results of it's investigation over to the US Attorney. They will decide whether to prosecute or not.

             

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        nasch (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

        If I called the Secret Service up and told them someone hacked into my laptop, I wouldn't even get the time of day. Apple gets them to visit the guy's house.

         

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          btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

          > If I called the Secret Service up and told them someone
          > hacked into my laptop, I wouldn't even get the time of day.
          > Apple gets them to visit the guy's house.

          That's because the US Attorney's office sets minimum guidelines for federal prosecution. Same reason the DEA isn't interested in you for possessing one joint. But if you have two tons of marijuana, you're on their radar.

           

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      aldestrawk (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 12:03am

      Re: This ain't "art": it's computer aided snooping.

      I am not looking for the role of Google apologist nor am I completely trustful of everything the NSA might be up to, however, I must point out the NSA is not a law enforcement agency and they do have a computer security hat in addition to their surveillance hat. The partnership between Google and the NSA could be just one of cooperation to find technical solutions to Aurora vulnerabilities (the alleged Chinese spearfishing expedition). Then again, the NSA is being awfully cagey, or is that just complete stonewalling, in disclosing any details about the relationship. This is their response to EPIC's FOIA related lawsuit.

      http://epic.org/2011/02/epic-v-nsa-foia-lawsuit-nsa-wi.html

      A summary of speculation about the relationship:
      http://www.pcworld.com/article/188581/the_googlensa_alliance_questions_and_answers.ht ml

      and EPIC's statement to congress:
      http://epic.org/privacy/cloudcomputing/google/EPIC_Cybersecurity_Statement.pdf

      From Consumer Watchdog's report you might find out why Google owns a fighter jet.
      http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GOOGGovfinal012411.pdf

      Finally, this is Consumer Watchdog's humorous take on former Google CEO Eric Schmidt's testimony before congress, though I get the feeling CW doesn't really think it's all that funny.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBMPphy9gFg&feature=player_embedded

       

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    charliebrown (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:26am

    Harm done?

    The biggest question is "was any ACTUAL harm done?"

    A bit of extra internet use? No big deal
    Was anybody injured? No
    Did any of the computers crash as a result of the added software? No
    Anything illegal downloaded to the store's computers? No
    Anything nasty done with the photos of the users? No

    So was any ACTUAL harm done by this guy? No
    No potential harm happened either. I say, no crime committed.

    But, on the other hand, I wouldn't blame the staff if they decided to kick him out of the store either!

     

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    sheenyglass, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    No state law violation

    In NY State, the privacy crimes (NY Penal Law art. 250) include two basic crimes applicable here - eavesdropping (Sec 250.05, which explicitly requires the intercepting of communication (not still photos), and unlawful surveillance (Sec. 250.45, 250.50), which requires the surveillance to be of a sexual nature.

    So no state law violation, regardless of whether there was an expectation of privacy.

     

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    deane (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    my two cents. not a crime but sure is creepy. and to all the trolls technically a mall is a PUBLIC place and all the pertaining laws apply. the worst that could happen is civil charges for hmm possible violation of TOS IF they had that posted clearly near or on entrance to the shop.

     

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      crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      You can agree to Terms of Service automagically now? I was wondering when they would get to skipping the token "click / press / breath here" step.

       

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      btr1701 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      > and to all the trolls technically a mall is
      > a PUBLIC place and all the pertaining laws apply

      The mall may be a quasi-public place (not completely public, per the Supreme Court) but the individual stores are not, and their floor model computers sure as hell are not, even if customers are allowed to use them for a limited purpose.

       

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        crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re:

        Gotta love those magic unexplained openended limitations.

        -Can I use your computer?
        -sure
        ...
        - I didn't say you could push the 'H' key! police!

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly. People seem to want to establish, through unsupported opinion no less, some line in the sand for the point at which the use of a publicly-available computer (with no predetermined usage agreement) becomes a federal offense worthy of prison time.

          I have to wonder: If he had installed Microsoft Office, would everyone here be trying to send him to prison? I doubt it.

          All that means is that people are trying to twist the law to hurt this guy because they think he did something uncouth, regardless of whether or not they really believe the law was broken.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:57am

          what he did

          -Can I use your computer?
          -sure
          ...
          - I didn't say you could ... INSTALL software on it that TAKES closeup photos focused on people's faces from a foot away WITHOUT their knowledge or permission, use our bandwidth to UPLOAD those photos to another computer we don't control, and PUBLISH those photos all over the internet without the knowledge or permission of the people in them.

          I guess that's the same as "pushing the 'H' key"????

          If I had any suspicion that Apple did indeed give fully informed consent to this 'artist' to do this, I would never go in their store again. To the extent that there are people like me, this guy 'harmed' Apple by damaging their reputation as a place you can go to look at a computer without the damned computer looking at you and sending your picture all over the world. I hope they sue his ass.

           

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            Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:07am

            Re: what he did

            I hope they sue his ass.

            That seems to be about their own recourse, and it doesn't seem like it would get very far. Frankly, I think they'd be dumb to try, but this is Apple we're talking about . . .

             

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            Eugene (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:39am

            Re: what he did

            "If I had any suspicion that Apple did indeed give fully informed consent to this 'artist' to do this, I would never go in their store again."

            But when they admitted that iPhones were secretly tracking you all the time...that didn't bother you? Why would that not be far, far worse than this? Where is your line in the sand, exactly?

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

              Re: Re: what he did

              "But when they admitted that iPhones were secretly tracking you all the time...that didn't bother you?"

              At the time I heard about that, I hadn't yet upgraded my iphone to the version of the OS that had that SPYWARE BUG, and I swore that if it was not fixed to my satisfaction I would never upgrade the OS and never buy a newer iphone. Is THAT enough to show that it bothered me?

              In response to people who say there was no "expectation of privacy" in a public store because there are other cameras for security, I say that a REASONABLE person expects that photos taken for security purposes will be used for those purposes and then deleted, NOT distributed to the entire world. If I scratch my ass in a store, I figure there might be one or two security guards who see it on a security camera for half a second, and that it won't be sent to an ass-scratcher-fetish website without my knowledge or permission. And the fact that I was in the store at all, looking at a computer, is not the world's business.

               

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    Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    More from the article:

    The mashable article includes this little nugget:

    McDonald, who has a master’s degree in electronic arts, admits the project might make some people uncomfortable. Before he began, he got permission from Apple’s security guards to take photos in the store, then asked customers if he could take their photos (with a camera). Had they all said no, he says, he wouldn’t have proceeded. He also refrained from putting the code for the photo-taking program online, as he does with most of his projects, because he recognized that the technology behind his art project could be used for less benign purposes. If someone sees themselves in his collection and wants to be removed, he will remove them.

    Soooo...he had permission from the store security guard(s), and he asked customers if he could take their picutres (albeit with a camera; presumably handheld)? Those seem to be rather important facts, no?

    The real questions seem to be whether he asked those two questions every day and whether he prevented people from using whatever machine(s) he had installed the software on if they said, "no," to his picture question.

    I'm not seeing a big problem here. I'm not even seeing how it's all that creepy. Perhaps it was a bit disingenuous to ask to take a photo when he was really taking pictures with a webcam, but telling them about the webcams would have ruined the project (potentially). Perhaps he also should have discussed it with a store manager, but, even so, at best he violated an obscure, previously unstated store policy and might end up banned from the store.

    The biggest problem seems to be the store employee who went and installed it to other machines (assuming I read the article correctly). I'm trying to figure out why he would do that without knowing full well what the program was doing.

     

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      crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:39am

      Re: More from the article:

      From the info you posted, it sounds like he didn't get permission from the people whose pictures he took, he did an experiment first asking other people in the store if he could take their picture and at least one of them said it was ok.

       

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        Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:14am

        Re: Re: More from the article:

        I'm not so sure about the permission thing. It doesn't say that he specifically asked them for permission to use the photo, but they were in a public place. And then there's the whole issue of who actually owns the copyright of a photograph. The person who took it or the person who owns the camera? does he even need their permission? I don't think he does.

        Of course, that's also part of why I wondered if he shooed people away from whatever computer he had installed the software on. My guess, though, is that he stood near the computer and asked people if he could take their picture. This actually makes some sense because he could take their photo with a handheld camera, compare it against photos taken by the webcam, and then only use photos of people who had agreed to have their pictures taken. Granted, that's a good bit of speculation on my part, but that's how I likely would have done it if I had come up with the idea.

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:41am

          Re: Re: Re: More from the article:

          Copyright belongs to whoever took the photo.

           

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            Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: More from the article:

            And if somebody took a photo of me but used my camera to do it? Technically, yes, the copyright is theirs, but I own the camera and the photo. So what then?

            In this case, the artist now holds the copyright, correct? Or does the computer?

            Being in a public place, they have no expectation of privacy, so I don't see that he would need their express permission to use the photos.

             

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      HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:30am

      Re: More from the article:

      "The biggest problem seems to be the store employee who went and installed it to other machines (assuming I read the article correctly). I'm trying to figure out why he would do that without knowing full well what the program was doing."

      Its not a store employee, its a tech, probably at one of their tech centers or corporate offices.

      Assuming some assumptions I assume this is what happened:

      Notice that the employee picture came from Cupertino, CA which is an entire continent away from where he was setting these computers up(he is in NY right or did I imagine that?). So some tech(or monitoring software) had noticed that a lot of upstream traffic from a bunch of different stores was going to an IP. Since most people don't upload things from Apple demo computer this probably threw up some red flags. They ask a tech to check out the site he sees the download that McDonald is putting on the demo units, so he downloads it onto a non-networked(on the net but not Apple nets) work computer so he can figure out what the program is doing. He sees its taking pictures and dumping them to the net, he calls his boss who calls his boss who calls his boss who calls the SS.

       

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        Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re: More from the article:

        Ah. I figured it was a store employee who just copied it over to other machines.

        Your way makes much more sense.

         

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      michaelg, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:45am

      Re: Mcdonalds instore autopics

      Digital technologies have ramifications and consequences which have the potential to undermine the status quo particularly in relationship between public and private domain[s]. The ongoing evolution enables and makes possible new ways to access process and interpret data - and new ways of seeing (pacé John Berger) - as is the case of McDonald. In itself, digital technology is neutral; it is neither good or bad; the boundaries between the public and private is now a constantly shifting dynamic; you could say 'leaky'. You might also infer that Apple's introduction of a new innovative form of retail environment has effectively made possible a new range of unforeseen and unanticipated options.

      My recommendation, given that MacDonald appears not to have anticipated or possibly understood the ensuring furore or consequences of his actions; coupled with the fact that no harm appears to have been done, is that this should be taken as an opportunity to examine and analyse what has happened and take a careful and measured approach to analysing this event.

      Macdonald clearly is a creative individual, who "dislikes walking beaten paths" for which he should not be penalised. It is possible that perhaps he has done American Society a favour. As a European I am, on the whole against instant ill-thought out reactions to events such as this; the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

       

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      michaelg, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:47am

      Re: Mcdonalds instore autopics

      Digital technologies have ramifications and consequences which have the potential to undermine the status quo particularly in relationship between public and private domain[s]. The ongoing evolution enables and makes possible new ways to access process and interpret data - and new ways of seeing (pacé John Berger) - as is the case of McDonald. In itself, digital technology is neutral; it is neither good or bad; the boundaries between the public and private is now a constantly shifting dynamic; you could say 'leaky'. You might also infer that Apple's introduction of a new innovative form of retail environment has effectively made possible a new range of unforeseen and unanticipated options.

      My recommendation, given that MacDonald appears not to have anticipated or possibly understood the ensuring furore or consequences of his actions; coupled with the fact that no harm appears to have been done, is that this should be taken as an opportunity to examine and analyse what has happened and take a careful and measured approach to analysing this event.

      Macdonald clearly is a creative individual, who "dislikes walking beaten paths" for which he should not be penalised. It is possible that perhaps he has done American Society a favour. As a European I am, on the whole against instant ill-thought out reactions to events such as this; the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

       

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      michaelg (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:50am

      Re: Mcdonalds instore autopics

      Digital technologies have ramifications and consequences which have the potential to undermine the status quo particularly in relationship between public and private domain[s]. The ongoing evolution enables and makes possible new ways to access process and interpret data - and new ways of seeing (pacé John Berger) - as is the case of McDonald. In itself, digital technology is neutral; it is neither good or bad; the boundaries between the public and private is now a constantly shifting dynamic; you could say 'leaky'. You might also infer that Apple's introduction of a new innovative form of retail environment has effectively made possible a new range of unforeseen and unanticipated options.

      My recommendation, given that MacDonald appears not to have anticipated or possibly understood the ensuring furore or consequences of his actions; coupled with the fact that no harm appears to have been done, is that this should be taken as an opportunity to examine and analyse what has happened and take a careful and measured approach to analysing this event.

      Macdonald clearly is a creative individual, who "dislikes walking beaten paths" for which he should not be penalised. It is possible that perhaps he has done American Society a favour. As a European I am, on the whole against instant ill-thought out reactions to events such as this; the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

       

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      michaelg (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:50am

      Re: Mcdonalds instore autopics

      Digital technologies have ramifications and consequences which have the potential to undermine the status quo particularly in relationship between public and private domain[s]. The ongoing evolution enables and makes possible new ways to access process and interpret data - and new ways of seeing (pacé John Berger) - as is the case of McDonald. In itself, digital technology is neutral; it is neither good or bad; the boundaries between the public and private is now a constantly shifting dynamic; you could say 'leaky'. You might also infer that Apple's introduction of a new innovative form of retail environment has effectively made possible a new range of unforeseen and unanticipated options.

      My recommendation, given that MacDonald appears not to have anticipated or possibly understood the ensuring furore or consequences of his actions; coupled with the fact that no harm appears to have been done, is that this should be taken as an opportunity to examine and analyse what has happened and take a careful and measured approach to analysing this event.

      Macdonald clearly is a creative individual, who "dislikes walking beaten paths" for which he should not be penalised. It is possible that perhaps he has done American Society a favour. As a European I am, on the whole against instant ill-thought out reactions to events such as this; the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

       

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    FM Hilton, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    I would venture a wild guess that what happened is:
    Apple went ballistic when they discovered this 'project' had gone public and then called the Secret Service as their personal law enforcement agency to seize all the photos and the computer that was used to do it with.

    They're going to claim copyright infringement, just for starters, and move on from there.

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:46am

      Re:

      I would venture a wild guess that what happened is:
      Apple went ballistic when they discovered this 'project' had gone public and then called the Secret Service as their personal law enforcement agency to seize all the photos and the computer that was used to do it with.


      That seems like a wild claim to make when the simpler explanation is that they found out someone was systematically installing software on their machines that dialed home periodically. That should make any IT security person worth a damn very, very suspicious. Apple made the right call in notifying the authorities.

      Once they know the whole story, however, they should back off.

       

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        teka, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:16pm

        Re: Re:

        The right call would be calling up that apple store manager and asking about "that guy who comes in every day at opening and spends 5 minutes with every computer before leaving"

        Then they could have quickly moved on to "hey, what is this software" and "My regional supervisor wants you to stop this, ok?" /or/ "hey, the lead VP in charge of marketing wants to make this part of the next apple ad campaign, this is his office number"

         

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    Austin (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Jurisdiction

    The real question here is, "What crimes does the secret service have jurisdiction over." The answer seems to be "nothing that anyone could misconstrue as what this guy did."

    Personally? I don't think this was the Secret Service. Why on earth would they collect his stuff and just leave? It sounds to me like something Apple themselves would do. These dudes were probably private security of some sort hired to attempt to scare the hell out of the artist. My money says they'll wipe his systems and he'll receive them in the mail in 4-7 weeks from "0 Infinite Loop" with a note inside the box that says "Gotcha! -J" The fact that there isn't any apparent law that they could charge him under would seem to support this.

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:49am

      Re: Jurisdiction

      The fact that there isn't any apparent law that they could charge him under would seem to support this.

      It hasn't even been determined that Apple wants to charge him with something. Some IT security guy saw something suspicious and reported it to the authorities.

      I don't know why everyone is jumping to the conclusion that Apple is amassing an army of lawyers to descend upon the guy in an attempt to "make him pay". Unless you know something I don't.

       

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    Daniel, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Dangerous

    I think it sets a dangerous precedent if this type of thing is allowed and has no legal consequences. I don't want images of me posted anywhere without my permission. If you don't think so, I guess you care nothing for privacy.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:47am

      Re: Dangerous

      If you're so concerned for privacy, I'll give you one suggestion: Don't go out of the house. In a public place like a Mall or Apple store or on the street, you have no expectation of privacy.

       

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:50am

      Re: Dangerous

      I don't want images of me posted anywhere without my permission.

      And I want a pony! I'd say we have about the same odds of getting what we want.

       

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:09am

      Re: Dangerous

      But Daniel, there are two rights to consider here - the right to privacy and the right to record and share things that happen in public.

      Flip this situation on its head. Are the people who posted cell-phone videos of the Vancouver rioters to help identify them violating privacy laws? Can cops argue that citizens filming them violates privacy laws? Can the people on the beach in the background of your vacation photos get them taken down from your blog?

      Be careful what you wish for. When you ask for privacy in public places, what you get is regulated truth - and that is never, ever a good thing.

       

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        Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: Dangerous

        But Daniel, there are two rights to consider here - the right to privacy and the right to record and share things that happen in public.

        Marcus, you bring up a very good point. I would actually agree that you shouldn't have absolute control over your own image, especially in a public place. However, I think that the issue of reasonable expectations needs to be taken into account here.

        Are the people who posted cell-phone videos of the Vancouver rioters to help identify them violating privacy laws?

        No, if you're rioting, you should reasonably expect that you'd be filmed.


        Can cops argue that citizens filming them violates privacy laws?

        No, if you're a public employee on public property, you should reasonably expect that you'd be filmed.


        Can the people on the beach in the background of your vaation photos get them taken down from your blog?

        No, if you're on public property, you should reasonably expect that you'd be filmed.

        Now, what about the inside of an Apple store (which I believe is actually private property)? Would the average person walking into that store reasonably expect that they'd have a close-up picture taken of them and posted to the Internet? I don't think so. And that's the difference between your examples and what actually happened.

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

          The Apple store is open to the public, in a public mall, with security cameras about, and your theory is that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy?

          How "close-up" it was and where they thought it might or might not be posted to is irrelevant in a discussion about their expectation of being photographed.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

            The Apple store is open to the public, in a public mall, with security cameras about, and your theory is that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy?

            No, that's not my theory. My point is that the "privacy" in "expectation of privacy" isn't a monolithic concept. The concept of privacy has context and is, from a legal standpoint, subject to the expectations of a reasonable person within a given set of circumstances.

            Specifically, a reasonable person would expect that there would be security cameras in a store and that they might be recorded. However, this same person would probably expect that if there was a still taken from this recording of them, it would be rather grainy and indistinct.

            How "close-up" it was and where they thought it might or might not be posted to is irrelevant in a discussion about their expectation of being photographed.

            That's where we disagree. And that's exactly where I think that expectations need to be taken into account. I contend that a reasonable person would not expect that a detailed picture of their face would be taken, stored, and distributed publicly when entering an store.

            What if technology advances and private companies can take an MRI of a person from a distance? Wouldn't the level of detail be relevant to a reasonable person's expectations of privacy?

            Do people traveling by air expect that a naked body scan is going to be taken of them? No, because in spite of that fact that they are in public, a picture of that detail would be considered private.

             

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              HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

              "Specifically, a reasonable person would expect that there would be security cameras in a store and that they might be recorded. However, this same person would probably expect that if there was a still taken from this recording of them, it would be rather grainy and indistinct."

              That reasonable person would be wrong. I know the cameras at best buy have a very high resolution. You can zoom to take a picture across the store(from that camera) and take a professional photo grade still.

              Yeah if I am in a 7-11 I wouldn't expect they can take a high-quality photo, but a lot of higher end chain store have some nice cameras.

               

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                Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                I know the cameras at best buy have a very high resolution.

                I believe you. However, I don't know if most people know this. And if people were made aware that high resolution pictures can be taken, it would still be considered an invasion of privacy for those recordings to be distributed to the public or, for that matter, used in any context other than for security purposes.

                Resolution does count when it comes to privacy.

                 

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                  HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                  "still be considered an invasion of privacy for those recordings to be distributed to the public or, for that matter, used in any context other than for security purposes."

                  depends on the state. My understanding is, in general in the US, you can publish any footage(or still) of anyone as long as no sound is recorded. Which is why you can have sites like peopleofwalmart.com and why everyone in the background isnt blurred out on reality TV. Just because people are misinformed about what can be done with that footage doesn't make it illegal. You keep using the "reasonable person expects" but that only applies to whether or not you can expect privacy in a place, like your home, a hotel room or a bathroom/dressing room. It does not apply to what can be done with the footage that is taken somewhere you can not expect privacy. That is based on state laws not peoples assumptions.


                  http://www.internettollfree.com/articles/surveillance-security-laws-you-need-to-kn ow-448

                   

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                    Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:43pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                    depends on the state

                    What most people think does not depend on the laws of a particular state. I'm not just splitting hairs here. I'm trying to clarify the discussion by making the distinction between that the law is and what most people or the "reasonable person" would consider to be "hacking" or an invasion of privacy. It very well may be that something is legal in a state, but still most people in that state would consider it an invasion of privacy. I personally think that just because you're in a public place, does not mean that you are completely subject to any type of picture/scan/recording possible with modern technology. And for the record, I'm not saying that the opposite is true where people think that they should have total control over their image. I see there being a reasonable middle ground.

                     

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                      Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                      But as this debate demonstrated, it's pretty tough to identify that middle ground, especially when it's always shifting. For example, you picture all security footage as grainy, black and white feeds (probably because this has become a sort of meme, used in all sorts of stuff) even though that hasn't been true for years. And honestly, that seems like an odd distinction in the first place: you're okay with being recorded, as long as there's only a 50/50 chance you can be identified? Seems arbitrary.

                      I'm not saying it necessarily has to be all-bets-are-off, but I'm not sure it's quite as simple as finding the correct "middle ground"

                       

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                      HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                      Ok, but if we have clarified that, what most people think != the law, then what is the point of this discussion?

                      I think we all agree that this is a little creepy and, I know I certainly wouldn't expect it to happen if I was at a demo machine. But beyond an ethics violation this guy didn't do anything wrong. (Hijacking apple's bandwidth is the best argument I have seen and I still don't think it would be enough to get a judgment against him)

                      So is the lesson to assume less? Or that "most reasonable people" are wrong in their expectations?

                      "I personally think that just because you're in a public place, does not mean that you are completely subject to any type of picture/scan/recording possible with modern technology."/"but still most people in that state would consider it an invasion of privacy."

                      Again just because we think it doesn't make it so and doesn't mean we can do anything about it if people do the opposite of what we think.

                       

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                        Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:15pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                        But beyond an ethics violation this guy didn't do anything wrong.

                        You do realize the ridiculousness of that statement, don't you? Let me paraphrase: "Ignoring the question of whether what this person did was right or wrong, what this person did wasn't wrong." Awesome!

                         

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                          Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:20pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dangerous

                          I never said it wasn't creepy or "wrong" but that its not illegal. Being morally or ethically or socially questionable doesn't make it illegal. I don't condone the action but I don't think its a violation of your privacy because I don't think you have privacy in public and I certainly don't think its illegal. I also still dont think it should be construed as any sort of "hacking."

                          Just because I personally don't agree with it doesn't mean I have to think it should be illegal.

                          I can see how you can screw that up if you only read one sentence.

                           

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      DannyB (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:13am

      Re: Dangerous

      > I don't want images of me posted anywhere without
      > my permission.



      Then the best advice I can give you is this.

      Get a notice tattooed on your forehead that cites specific US law, and your demand for payment or other settlement.

      Hire a lawyer to draft the correct language.

       

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        HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re: Dangerous

        "Get a notice tattooed on your forehead that cites specific US law, and your demand for payment or other settlement."

        A hat or tee shirt might be a little less painful

         

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      Eugene (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:45am

      Re: Dangerous

      You mean like the traffic light photos of you, or the CC security photos of you, or millions of other facilities all over the place that will take your picture without your permission?

      Yeah. Like that guy above me says, and I want a pony!

       

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    Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Who the what now?

    The computers he used were open to the public, so no hacking there.

    Huh? What does the fact that the computers were in a public place have to do with anything? Regardless of whether the intent was benign, it seems to me that the average person would consider it "hacking" if you installed software on a computer without the owner's express permission.

    Say that someone updated a display model computer at Best Buy so that it displayed the better prices at competitor stores? You wouldn't consider this hacking because the computer happened to be in public?

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:53am

      Re: Who the what now?

      Regardless of whether the intent was benign, it seems to me that the average person would consider it "hacking" if you installed software on a computer without the owner's express permission.

      How do you differentiate that with simply using the computer without the owner's permission? As far as I know, you don't have to ask anyone at all to start poking around on them.

      Say that someone updated a display model computer at Best Buy so that it displayed the better prices at competitor stores? You wouldn't consider this hacking because the computer happened to be in public?

      Correct.

       

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        Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:50am

        Re: Re: Who the what now?

        How do you differentiate that with simply using the computer without the owner's permission? As far as I know, you don't have to ask anyone at all to start poking around on them.

        There's a big difference between using the existing programs on a display model and installing a new application on a display model. I think the proverbial reasonable person would see this key distinction.

        Correct.

        You are surely in the minority with this opinion. Regardless of the legal definition of hacking, I believe that most people would consider this activity to qualify. Are you splitting hairs here? Do you just have a different definition of "hacking" or are you referring to some particular legal point to justify why this would not be hacking?

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

          There's a big difference between using the existing programs on a display model and installing a new application on a display model.

          How so? Can you explain this distinction?

          You are surely in the minority with this opinion.

          I don't think most reasonable people would assume that bringing up a NewEgg page on a Best Buy computer was a felony. Maybe you hang around a different group of people than I do.

          are you referring to some particular legal point to justify why this would not be hacking?

          It's not for me to justify why it wouldn't be hacking. It's for you to justify why it would be. Apple puts out computers for the use of public and even allows them to install things to those computers at will (both through the lack of any user restrictions and through store policy). If you can explain how doing so is "hacking", then by all means try. Vague assertions about how installing software suddenly makes a hacking charge possible is pretty silly unless you have something to back it up.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

            How so? Can you explain this distinction?

            The distinction is simply this: that the majority of people would not consider running the calculator app on a display model as hacking, whereas they would consider as hacking what the person in the article did.


            I don't think most reasonable people would assume that bringing up a NewEgg page on a Best Buy computer was a felony. Maybe you hang around a different group of people than I do.

            I didn't mean bringing up a web page in a browser already installed on the machine. I was trying to think of a relatively benign example. I meant something closer to what the person in the story actually did i.e. install an application.


            It's not for me to justify why it wouldn't be hacking. It's for you to justify why it would be.

            I intended that to be an honest question, not an attack. I was just hoping to get a little background on your thoughs on the topic to further the discussion.

            Apple puts out computers for the use of public and even allows them to install things to those computers at will (both through the lack of any user restrictions and through store policy).

            I think that there is a non-trivial distinction between "allowing" someone to do something and not (adequately) restricting someone from doing something. For example, Sony can have laughably weak security on its systems, but that doesn't mean it gave permission for people to hack them.


            If you can explain how doing so is "hacking", then by all means try.

            Well, if you read my comments carefully, you'll notice that I didn't actually say that I thought what this guy did was hacking. I was referring to "most people". I actually don't think that what this person did would be considered "hacking" by most people in the computer field, just most people on the planet.

             

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              HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

              Here is the legal definition of hacking:
              http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/computer-hacking/

              But the first step before you can go any farther is this:
              "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains--"

              He has authorization and did not exceed authorized access. Any member of the public can walk in the store and use the demos -so he has authorized access

              People are allowed to install software and the user policies do not block the installation of software -so he did not exceed authorized access.

              Just because you think the majority of people don't understand what hacking is does not mean that is what the law is based on. Was this beyond what apple thought people might use it for, probably. But that doesn't make it illegal. Most reasonable people wouldn't think the intended use of a netbook is shove it up someones ass, but if I shoved one up Daryl's ass would I be hacking?

              "Sony can have laughably weak security on its systems, but that doesn't mean it gave permission for people to hack them."

              The difference here is a security system is just that, a system to block you from doing something or make it secure. Going around that is hacking because it exceeds authorized use. So the comparison is apples to oranges, if Apple had had a laughable weak security feature to prevent this then he would be "hacking."

              The only way this would unreasonable use would be if it is illegal. I think its shady but not illegal, but if it turns out otherwise than you could argue he exceeded authorized use. Because the only thing Apple has a reasonable right to assume is that you won't use the demos to do anything illegal.

               

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                Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                He has authorization and did not exceed authorized access. Any member of the public can walk in the store and use the demos -so he has authorized access

                He flat out did not have authorization. You seem to think that "it's better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission." It's not.

                 

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                  HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                  wait what? everyone is authorized to use the demo machines, that is what they are there for. The public is fully authorized to use them, you do not have to ask anyone in the store permission before you touch them. That is their intended purpose.

                  As far as did someone expressly tell him he could install this specific piece of software, no they didn't. But in the realm of computers that is not what is meant by authorized access, authorized is anything the computer allows you to do without circumventing security protocols. So step by step:

                  Was he authorized to use the computer at all? Yes, anyone who walks in off the street can use the computers.

                  Was he authorized to install software? Yes, the user account that he is authorized to use (see above) allows him to install software, therefore he is authorized to do it.

                  If had to gain unauthorized access then it would be hacking (i.e. secretly use the computer, use a staff computer instead of a demo, use a staff login to access a admin account, or anything else to force the install)

                  Again, No he did not have express permission to install this specific software. But he was authorized to use the computer(everyone is) and authorized install software (everyone is). He did not use a loophole, fraud, or any other nefarious means to accomplish this. Apple allowed him to use the computer and he did what the computer is set up to allow him to do. Is this what it was intended for, certainly not but that does not mean it is unauthorized.

                  Personally, I ask for permission and would have never thought to pull a stunt like this but what you and I would do is, again, not the law.

                   

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                    Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                    The public is fully authorized to use them

                    Yes, but not in every possible way.

                    But in the realm of computers that is not what is meant by authorized access

                    Yes it is.

                    authorized is anything the computer allows you to do without circumventing security protocols.

                    Not it isn't. Just because it's possible, doens't mean it's authorized.

                     

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                      Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:50pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                      You make very convincing arguments.

                      "Yes, but not in every possible way." They can't make money off them, he is allowed to take them and post them to a third party website. Can you show one example that says otherwise? My example is peopleofwalmart.com.

                      "Yes it is."

                      Yes what is? you take one sentence and say the opposite. Do this count as an argument?

                      "But in the realm of computers everything you are not expressly told you can do is hacking." That is what you are arguing? That is the opposite of my original thought smashed into one sentence. So you believe if someone you have to ask permission before you do anything? Please defend that statement since it is apparently what you think. Have you been on techdirt at all at work? Did you ask your IT manager if you can go to techdirt, or if you can reply to me? Did you ask him if you can reply to each post individually or if you can just reply to all posts at any time? Are you allowed to go to any website? Do you get permission before going to any non-work related websites? OMG are you a hacker?

                      "Not it isn't. Just because it's possible, doens't mean it's authorized."

                      Ok, that sentence was overly broad. But all the words after that are the basis for that sentence, so why don't you look for the flaw and tell me where this becomes hacking. And don't tell me its what you can expect people to do, because if you(as a business decision) leave a computer on and open in public, ask people to come over and use it and not restrict anything they can do why can you expect them to be nice to it?.

                       

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                        Hulser (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 6:53am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                        So you believe if someone you have to ask permission before you do anything?

                        No. That would be silly. What I'm saying is that in some conditions you have to ask permission and some conditions you don't. For example, you don't have to ask permission to run an application on a demo computer at an Apple store. Another example: you do have to ask permission if you want to install an application on a demo computer at an Apple store. My point is simply that, like many other things, what constitutes unauthorized access and a privacy violations are dependent on the particular situation.

                        Let me put it this way, how likely do you think it would have been for the Apple corporation to grant this person access to install his creepy application? Would you agree that it's about zero? If so, don't think this is a pretty good indication that this was not an authorized activity?

                        why don't you look for the flaw and tell me where this becomes hacking

                        The topic of that paragraph wasn't about the broader issue of whether what he did was hacking. It was to the more narrow issue of whether what he did was authorized. You contend that because one of the purposes of a computer is to install applications, the Apple store was tacitly granting permission to install an application on their demo computer. My position is that this idea is patently ridiculous. You know Apple doesn't want you installing your own software on their demo machines. Just because they didn't properly lock down the machines or put up a big sign that says "Don't install software on this computer" doesn't mean you have permission to do so. Again, just because something is possible, doesn't mean it's authorized.

                         

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                          nasch (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                          Another example: you do have to ask permission if you want to install an application on a demo computer at an Apple store.

                          From what I've been reading here, that is not true. If you can walk up to a demo machine and install software on it, and Apple doesn't make any indication you're supposed to ask permission, and doesn't attempt to impose any adverse consequences on you for doing so without permission, what makes you think you need to ask permission?

                           

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        Sean T Henry (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re: Who the what now?

        "Say that someone updated a display model computer at Best Buy so that it displayed the better prices at competitor stores? You wouldn't consider this hacking because the computer happened to be in public?"

        I would see this as being different but only for one reason, the user account is locked and does not allow you to install applications or make changes to the computer. I believe that Best Buy does not have a network cable connected to the computers. So to install software the person will have to work around the system restrictions. The Apple computers did not have this and installing would be as easy as plugging in a flash drive with the install file set to launch when connected.

         

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          HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

          "believe that Best Buy does not have a network cable connected to the computers."

          All of best buys displays are on the internet

           

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      crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:59am

      Re: Who the what now?

      Yeah, it's not hacking if you have permission. I would assume I have permission to do anything they have allowed the user account that they provided me with to do. Now stealing the admin password from the tech's desk and logging in with that would be un-authorized access :)

       

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        Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:57am

        Re: Re: Who the what now?

        I would assume I have permission to do anything they have allowed the user account that they provided me with to do.

        I honestly don't know the exact wording of the "hacking" laws, but I would assume (or at least hope) there are qualifications for contextual permission. As in, a reasonable person would expect that you can start any application on a display computer and play around with them. But I don't think a reasonable person would think that it was OK to install a new application without the owner's knowledge.

         

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          crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

          huh? why not? If they didn't want me to be able to install apps, why did they give the guest user install priviledges? This person you are talking about doesn't seem very reasonable to me.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

            "If that woman didn't want to be raped, why did she wear such provacative clothing?"

            "If Sony didn't want to be hacked, why didn't they have more secure systems?"

            "If they didn't want to be robbed, why didn't they lock their door?"

             

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              HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

              Here the difference is rape, robbery and hacking are all illegal taking pictures of people in public, with or without their consent, is not.

              Rape by definition is forced sex, these computers allowed him to put the software on without any complaints, warning or attempts to make him stop so the installation was consensual.

              Sony had security, albiet bad security, getting around that security was hacking. These demos had no security feature to block installation, effective or ineffective, so installing the software was not hacking(even though the option to block installation is built into the OS and takes about 8 seconds to activate, the "reasonable person" could assume that if they didn't want you to install stuff they would disable the feature).

              In your third instance the door is a security feature, being unlocked its a lot like Sony's security, by going through it you are entering private property which you are not authorized to access.

               

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                Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                Here the difference is rape, robbery and hacking are all illegal taking pictures of people in public, with or without their consent, is not.

                But that's the point in question, isn't it? Whether what he did is illegal. Whether you call it hacking or something else, I think that either what he did A) was illegal or B) should be illegal. It's an invasion of privacy. Partly because it goes beyond what the average person would expect and partly because, well...it's just downright creepy.

                Rape by definition is forced sex, these computers allowed him to put the software on without any complaints, warning or attempts to make him stop so the installation was consensual.


                You're joking, right? By your own logic, if a woman is so drunk that she can't say no, the sex is consensual.

                 

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                  Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:43pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                  I was making light of your hyperbolic rape analogy I don't really think its worth while to try and compare analogies of rape and hacking.

                  As to your other point, again the law is not all about what the average person thinks the law should be. Sometimes that test is used in certain laws. In privacy law it is used for or not you can expect privacy by where you are, as in "can I expect what I am doing to be something only myself or those I expressly permit to see." You can not expect privacy in a department store you are in public surrounded by people. Anyone can be watching you at anytime, and someone probably is at least casually looking at you or they could be taking a picture, and you are certainly being monitored none of that violates your expectations of privacy.

                  Google "privacy torts" and your state then look for the part on intrusion, you can see for yourself that being in a public place severely limits your privacy rights. If you wanna try and accuse him of appropriation(making money off your image) look for my other post and read the links first but he did not intrude on anything that should be expected to be private.

                   

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                    Hulser (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 8:27am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                    being in a public place severely limits your privacy rights

                    But neither should being in a public place totally eliminate your privacy rights either.

                    I'll admit that I'm not an expert in privacy laws. That's why I can't say whether what he did is illegal. I do know, however, that many laws have built into them some subjectivity based on the average or "reasonable" person. For example, the laws/regulations about indecency take into account the public's current definition of idecent. They didn't change the law that you can now say son of a bitch or show a naked butt on TV; it's just that the times changed.

                    I don't know if the privacy laws are flexible like this, but I think they should be. This would be at least one way to account for changing technology. As I said in another comment, if someone invents an MRI machine that can be used from several feet away, I think that most people would consider this to be an invasion of privacy if, for example, your insurance company did a scan without your permission even if you were in a public place.

                     

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                      HothMonster, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:31am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                      "As I said in another comment, if someone invents an MRI machine that can be used from several feet away, I think that most people would consider this to be an invasion of privacy if, for example, your insurance company did a scan without your permission even if you were in a public place."

                      They already got something pretty close, look up "mobile backscatter xray"

                       

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                      nasch (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                      That's because you still have a reasonable expectation that your insides remain private. So far legally there is no protection for any expectation of privacy in a public place.

                       

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                  Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:06pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                  "Here the difference is rape, robbery and hacking are all illegal taking pictures of people in public, with or without their consent, is not."

                  and you are right I should have said "criminal" instead of "illegal"

                   

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              crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

              huh? This is not about provocative clothing, it's about the permissions they give to their users. If you give permission, it isn't rape, it isn't robbery and it isn't hacking!

               

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                crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                What you are suggesting is more like someone left a sign that says "take some doughnuts", then they got pissed cuz someone they didn't like took all the doughnuts and charged them with theft because there was unspoken rule that 2 is the maximum free doughnuts.

                 

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                  Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:10pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                  What you are suggesting is more like someone left a sign that says "take some doughnuts"

                  I agree. I think your analogy to the events at the Apple store is appropriate. For me, the difference is a matter of degree, not kind. It really is like taking all of the donuts. Bt donuts are petty theft, whereas issues of privacy are far more important to the average person. (Except cops, of course.) As I've stated before, it's about expectations. In your donut example, a reasonable person would expect that taking a donut or two is OK. But taking all of the donuts? Saying that there was not a goon standing there smacking donuts out of the hands of would be thieves doesn't mean it's OK or legal. It just means that the person putting the donuts out had an expectation that this wouldn't happen.

                   

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                    nasch (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:53pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                    Are you really saying someone could be convicted of theft for taking a plateful of doughnuts under a sign that said "free doughnuts"?

                     

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      HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:04am

      Re: Who the what now?

      "Say that someone updated a display model computer at Best Buy so that it displayed the better prices at competitor stores? You wouldn't consider this hacking because the computer happened to be in public?"

      Lol, we had a kid that used to come in to the Best Buy I worked at and open Newegg.com on all the demos. He came in every few weeks, not sure why he bothered but we always laughed.

      And no, no one ever asked him to leave or stop. The demos are there for people to due as they please with. Certain stuff is restricted by the user account but other than that they can do as they please.

       

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      Nathan F (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:39am

      Re: Who the what now?

      Is that display computer connected to the internet? Load IE8/9/10 whatever version its on and set the homepage to that competitors website. I'd wager that most of the public coming in to look at a new computer don't know how to set a home page. You didn't do anything to the computer, you simply changed one string of the browser in a manner that was intended by the programmers. So no.. wouldn't consider that hacking.

       

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        Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re: Who the what now?

        Load IE8/9/10 whatever version its on and set the homepage to that competitors website.

        I'm not sure of the specifics of the law, but I personally believe that a "reasonable person" wouldn't see navigating to a web site in a browser on a display model as being hacking. Mischievous, yes. But not "hacking". I was thinking more along the lines of installing an exe that showed a message and disabled a soft reboot.

         

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          HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

          who are these reasonable people you keep talking about?
          Why do they all agree with you?
          And wtf do we care what the expect?

           

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            Hulser (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

            We care what the fuck the reasonable person expects because with many laws, the interpretations are affected by what a "reasonable person" would think. Try as they might, lawmakers can't define everything about human nature, so the exact interpetations of the law have to sometimes be left in the hands of the proverbial "reasonable person".

             

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              HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:26pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

              yes, or an idiot in a hurry, but hacking is not one of those laws nor is privacy beyond where you can expect it.

               

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                crade (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:50pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who the what now?

                Usually they don't actually decide the boundaries of the law either.. They decide things like if things look too similar or whatever.
                I would hope you don't have many
                "would an idiot in a hurry think this activity would be against the law" type deals since the laws should actually have definitions that aren't opinion based.

                 

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      JEDIDIAH, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:06am

      Re: Who the what now?

      The computers were "open to the public".

      That's all that anyone needs to hear. There was no "hack". They were merely used. Perhaps they were "mis-used". However, they were never "hacked". Neither were they used without authorization. That authorization is clearly implied.

      No "burglary" occurred.

       

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    Frank Zentura (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:44am

    Okay when the government does it.

    Interesting. It's supposedly intrusive when a private individual does what the government does to us every day. Patriot Act anyone? Street cameras anyone? The "Secret Service" (I seriously doubt this is their jurisdiction but I'll play ball) probably approached him with a job offer....

     

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    FuzzyDuck, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    I find this borderline creepy but not a crime

    As usual the authorities overreact. Why involve the secret service or even get a warrant to take all his hardware? Considering that the guy was open about it, making it his "art", an invitation for an interview at the police station to explain himself would have been more than enough.

    There are already plenty of webcams out there, that broadcast on the web what people are doing in public places. This just seems to push it a little further being closeups of people's faces. If I had been one of those people, I probably wouldn't have liked to have my picture published like that without my knowledge.

    Nevertheless the charges laid against him are total bogus and should be thrown out.

     

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    John, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Sorry, not public.

    The space is owned and operated be a private company. Just because the public is allowed in doesn't make it a 'public space'. Try showing up at WallMart with a camera crew sometime and see what happens.

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:55am

      Re: Sorry, not public.

      He got permission from the security guards to take pictures.

      Try showing up at WallMart with a camera crew sometime and see what happens.

      They might toss you out, it's true. Apple didn't toss this guy out. How are the two related?

       

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      HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:06am

      Re: Sorry, not public.

      uuuummmm, www.peopleofwalmart.com

      "Try showing up at WallMart with a camera crew sometime and see what happens."

      You get some great shots of some weirdos from the looks of it

       

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:55am

    If this is unlawful hacking...

    I better be careful then. My hobby of installing Free Open Source Software on in store demo computers is pretty darn risky. I better be careful. Someone might consider Fire Fox or Libre Office to be malicious software, especially if I enable automatic reporting when installing the software.

     

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    HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    You missed my favorite part of this story. The guys initial statement before his lawyers had him clam up was, "I asked the security guard if I could take pictures in the store, he said yes." Obviously he had a camera with him and the guard didn't understand what the agreed to, but funny none the less. I'll see if I can find the link, but I submitted it to Mike the other day.

     

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    reboog711 (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Creepy!

    Is it creepy? Most definitely.

    Is it an invasion of Privacy? I think so. When I walk into a store, such as an Apple Store (or a Best Buy or any store w/ computers available) I think I have a reasonable expectation that the computer will not take a picture of me for future public display.

    Is it an illegal invasion of privacy? I suspect not. At best he is violating some unspoken etiquette w/ regards to what you're allowed to do on public computers.

     

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      HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:40am

      Re: Creepy!

      "Is it an invasion of Privacy? I think so. When I walk into a store, such as an Apple Store (or a Best Buy or any store w/ computers available) I think I have a reasonable expectation that the computer will not take a picture of me for future public display. "

      You are fully aware that there is an army of cameras watching you in any of these stores and they are free to do what they want with those pictures and video.

       

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        adrian (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:38am

        Re: Re: Creepy!

        Your statement that they are free to do what they wish is not accurate.

        Use of someone's likeness without their consent could result in an appropriation claim. That's why, when you watch reality tv shows, people who don't sign waivers and releases are blurred out.

        A defense to the claim of appropriation is consent, whoever, these individuals were on private property and did not expressly consent to be a part of Mr. Kyle McDonald's project. With respect to implied consent, I'm not sure a judge would side with McDonald if an individual brought a claim. Because the mall and the Apple Store are private property and McDonald did not himself have consent to photograph, the individuals photographed may not have had the requisite authority to consent (implied or otherwise) to be photographed by McDonald.

         

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          HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Creepy!

          "Use of someone's likeness without their consent could result in an appropriation claim. That's why, when you watch reality tv shows, people who don't sign waivers and releases are blurred out."

          Im pretty sure thats only if sound is recorded as well. Which is why all the people in the background have faces even though I'm sure there isn't some kid running around getting them to sign shit. So if your voice is recorded as well then you need to give consent. The rest of that is a popular misconception. IANAL

          http://www.internettollfree.com/articles/surveillance-security-laws-you-need-to-know-448

           

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            Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Creepy!

            I apologize for not fully understanding appropriation it certainly muddles the waters.

            You were right that if you are using it commercially you can get sued for appropriation. The voice deal is still true but that just for the privacy tort. Appropriation can be used with just a still photo if you are making money off it.

            So I wondered how likely people are to win a suit against this guy but what qualifies as "making money of it" outside of using it in an actual advertisement is pretty vague, and varies wildly between states, especially involving the internet and art.

            I wouldn't doubt some civil suits will come with how popular this has become. It could lead to a big ruling (if any cares about it in 6 months and they don't just settle) for sites like PeopleofWalmart, lamebook(if facebook doesn't kill them first) and their ilk. They technically make money of the images/words of someone else that were made in public. Most sites like this are started for fun(I would hope) but if they have adds and get popular then they are making money, even if its not much.

            McDonald is on tumblr so he isn't making money but he is making a name for himself(especially now, Streisand) which as an "artist" could be considered "profitable or commercial" although that doesn't seem to be the spirit of the law.

            I still don't think Apple has a case though, unless they can drum something up about lost sales caused by the demos computers perform poorly. I don't think they should be able to win if it did screw with performance, because they could say that about any program and if you can't install anything than they can easily not allow it since they have a demo configuration anyway.

            http://www.privacilla.org/releases/Torts_Report.html
            Talks about appropriation in each section.

            http://www.unc.edu/courses/2010fall/law/357c/001/googlemapsandprivacy/civil.html

            http ://abovethelaw.com/2006/10/strippers-remorse-that-cat-is-way-out-of-the-bag/

            http://www.cas.oksta te.edu/jb/faculty/senat/jb3163/privacytorts.html

             

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    Overcast (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:25am

    Get a notice tattooed on your forehead that cites specific US law, and your demand for payment or other settlement.

    Interesting Concept - what if I go and copyright that. THEN in fact, you could NOT redistribute or take a picture or I could sue, right?

    Actually - indeed, wouldn't ANY tattoo that an agency/store or any surveillance takes a picture of be in violation of the DMCA?

    It is ART after all - that could REALLY open up Pandora's box, not couldn't it? You could even potentially get stuff like that tossed out of court.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Was it a crime, not technically, but it will be a federal crime soon.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:04am

    I think installing surveillence software on hundreds of computers daily crosses the line. Just because they're available to test doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with them. Even without the privacy issues, you're potentially clogging up the network traffic and making the computers run slower.

    And he asked "permission" in such a sneaky way - why do you think he did that? Maybe because he knew they'd object to what he was actually planning? And sorry, but asking permission from random people is not the same as actually asking permission from the people you're taking the pictures of. Last time someone randomly asked permission to take my picture I said no.

     

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      Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:07am

      Re:

      All of this still doesn't mean that he committed a crime. Most of it would just constitute "socially unacceptable behaviour" as Chris put it.

       

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:46am

      Re:

      I think installing surveillence software on hundreds of computers daily crosses the line.

      Crosses the line into what?

       

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        Michael Long (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Please. His own statements and actions indicate that he knew where the "line" was, and exceeded it.

        He asked a security guard in the store if he could "take a few pictures" with his camera. He asked an employee if he could install his software on a machine in order to try it out. He did NOT ask if he could install his software on hundreds of machines daily. He did NOT ask if he could surreptitiously take thousands of photos of Apple store customers, without their knowledge or consent.

        Why? Because he himself knew that the former set of actions would be allowed, and the later would not. That one set would be considered fair and reasonable, and that one would not.

        Did he even attempt to contact Apple corporate about his project? Did he even discuss it with the store manager, or anyone else in authority? Did he even attempt to setup his own computers in order to gather photos for his project? Did he ask friends to install his software? No, no, no, and apparently not.

        In short, he lied, dissembled, evaded, and attempted to cover up his actions. Purposely, and deliberately.

        That's the line.

         

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          Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So, I ask "Crosses the line into what?", and your response is to tell me what you think the line is. Very smart.

          I ask again: Crosses the line into what?

           

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            JEDIDIAH, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:08am

            Where's the crime again?

            This kind of fuzzy non-logic is why lawyers of all sorts end up running amok and causing much more damage to society than this fellow and his glorified security camera shots.

            Where's the crime again?

            Being a jerk a lot of times doesn't make you a criminal.

            This is very fortunate for some people.

             

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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Hire him!

    Apple should hire this guy and let him do such an art project for their next commercial.

    Even if he is punished for doing this without permission, his creativity should not go unrewarded.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    At first it seems pretty heavy handed, but like Chris notes they don't know for certain what the program did. I guess my first reaction would not be the nuclear option but more like bushwhack the guy when he comes in to install the programs again bring him to Apple jail and beat him with user friendly laptops yelling "is it safe?!"

    wait... what are we talking about?

     

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    NullOp, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:28am

    Apple

    This is case of Apple and Big Brother ganging up to wale on the little guy. It also points to a short-sighted security policy on Apple's part. Oh, and by-the-way, I doubt if the Secret Service, SS, was involved as they protect the president(lower case intentional).

     

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    Jes Lookin, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    It's a Case of Reality

    From a technical POV, it's a normal case of reality - technically saavy people (with motivation and time on their hands) will ALWAYS be able to mess with any technology accessible to the public. That's computers, phones, and whatever that have public, accessible interfaces. Period. Always. Count on it.
    So, the question is less of security/violation - there is NONE (at most somewhat inconvenient decryption). The question is how reliable and important is the information accessed. In this case, Nada. Weird, Yes, important, No.
    Now you get to guess how reliable the publically accessible data on you is...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    This would be an interesting copyright case study.. McDonald clearly made the artistic choices, but the photos were actually taken by the corporate "person" Apple. (or was it taken by McDonald's software?)

    Anyone know?

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:48am

      Re:

      Actually, I asked myself the same question. A post about who owns the copyrights to photos taken by machines would be fascinating, and I might try to do one.

       

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        Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re:

        I'd be interested in a post like that. I asked something similar of Rikuo in response to one of their comments (above): http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110707/23055015003/secret-service-descends-artist-mildly-creepy-p ublic-photography.shtml#c1009

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:32am

        Re: Re:

        I would think that because the software he installed is essentially just a fancy "timer", taking photos at expected intervals, it's not much different than say, using the shot timer on your digital camera.

        The person who installed the software and started the "Timer" should be the one who owns the copyright on the images.

        After-all, you wouldn't say that Nikon owns some of your family photos just because you didn't actually push the button yourself and the "Camera" took the photo based upon a timer.

        Would you ?

         

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        Benny6Toes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:36am

        Re: Re:

        As a follow-up to this line of thought:
        The Apple computer took the photo, but the code was written and installed by McDonald and then transmitted via that code. So while the computer was owned my Apple, the picture was taken by the installed code.

        So does the person who owns the machine that "clicks the shutter button" to take a photo own the copyright, or is it owned by the person who wrote the code that causes the machine to "click the shutter button" to take a photo?

         

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          adrian (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          One could definitely argue that because Apple controlled essentially all of elements of artistic expression (lighting, position of the camera, position of the subject within the frame, iso, shutter speed...) that make a photograph unique and McDonald's program was more or less a timer, Apple is the rightful owner of the copyrights in the images.

           

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    David Mc Guinness, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Installing software that transmitts to an external site course the autorities should investigate. To blow it out of porpotion as it has been done here is a real crime.
    this guy seems to have set this up to generate publicity and looking at he posts he has suceeded.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Figured it out

    I know why the secret service was involved!
    The man in the upper right hand picture was obviously one of theirs. The police threaten to lock you in jail when you record them. The secret service just show up and take all your stuff.

     

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    AlwaysPhotographing, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:28pm

    My Blog Article on this Subject

    I first learned of this through a different article that supplied the details of the basis for Secret Service involvement.

    My article has links to the statute relied upon in the seizure of McDonald's equipment and the original article I read.

    As it stands, the case against McDonald is fairly weak. But that all could change, depending on exactly what they find on his laptop and other media.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    As for who owns the photos - that's easy. The people in them.

    Why?

    Because now-a-days, facial recognition software gives a certain 'value' to a person's face, just by nature of the whole technology. That can be used on Facebook for example to automatically tag images and similar.

    It's also unique and - in the case of the Mona Lisa for example, it clearly has an artist value - one that, of course, could vary greatly by a person's subjective opinion, but then the SAME would apply to an Apple Computer. To some, they are worth a lot - to others they have no value...

    Therefore, our faces are our own intellectual property. I recommend we start copyrighting them. Then ANY use of said photos could be dealt with by DMCA or other IP laws.

    This would categorically take away the supposed 'right' of companies to freely retain my image. I think this is a movement that needs to start - now.

    Why not? Couldn't any 'artist' claim their photo on their album is protected?

     

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      nasch (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:06am

      Re:

      Therefore, our faces are our own intellectual property. I recommend we start copyrighting them. Then ANY use of said photos could be dealt with by DMCA or other IP laws.

      This is sarcasm, right?

       

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    Jens, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Personality rights

    Well, it is different, if you ask someone if they are ok to have their picture taken right there. But it is a different thing if the person is not aware that a picture has been taken. He did not take a picture of a group without certain focus, but of one person in focus. As far as I know this is unlawful not only here in Germany, but also in the US. Everybody has the right to his own image and needs to be asked permission.
    Otherwise one could just sneak pictures of anything.

    I have also asked Apple store personnel on occasion if I could take pictures of the store. But this was just to have a picture of the store.

    There are a lot of people that do not feel comfortable being photographed for lots of reasons.
    I think this should be respected.

    I assume you wouldn't want to be pictured picking your nose, right?

    Cheers,
    Jens

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:26pm

      Re: Personality rights

      As far as I know this is unlawful not only here in Germany, but also in the US. Everybody has the right to his own image and needs to be asked permission.

      Not true in the US.

      I assume you wouldn't want to be pictured picking your nose, right?

      No, but I'd rather live in a free country. You take the good with the bad. ;)

       

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    JMT (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Ha, it looks like the Secret Service paid a visit to the Apple Store in question to investigate. Check out the dude in the top right photo. Tell me that's not a man-in-black... ;)

     

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    CK, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:48pm

    Secret Service is involved in fraud

    I think you need to explain why the Secret Service would be involved. They do not just protect the president, they also investigate mail fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, etc. So yes, they're assuming possible attempt at identity theft, which is why they were involved.

     

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    Rekrul, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 4:18pm

    I have less objection to this than I do to being filmed by security cameras practically 24/7 every time I leave my house.

     

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    DecentDiscourse, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:24pm

    Privacy is a right, and a store is not public space.

    When I go to an Apple store I do not consent to being incorporated into an art project, a commercial or anything else. Unless there are large signs on the wall to the contrary, I do not assume I've wandered into some kind of living Facebook privacy-rights-out-the-window Hell.

    Imagine if he were a known sex offender instead of an "artist" and posted his video simply as "Hot People I Took Pictures Of Secretly" on a page called "Getting Off." Totally gross, right? Now, how would you supporters feel? If you would be repulsed, ask yourself why. This shouldn't be okay just because you like his art or that he is an artist. Those factors can never be a substitute for the consent of the victims or for the consent of Apple to install software. This is no more fair than if he stuck a camera up to your living room window and made a "collage" of you and your neighbors.

    With art comes responsibility. Your "artist" badge does not absolve you of knowing right from wrong or give you super powers to take rights from others because it pleases your aesthetic. He's lucky I didn't walk into that store. I'd make sure he'd be in court for the rest of his life.

     

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      teka, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

      Re: Privacy is a right, and a store is not public space.

      thank you, internet tough guy. I am sure you have spoken for all the angry-at-the-world old men out there, and well done on shoehorning a nice "What If He Was A Known Sex Offender!!!!!!! Think Of The Children!" argument in as well.


      Now, everyone over here in the rest of the world knows a few things..

      1) Courts have found places like malls and parks and other public areas to be, that is right, Public Areas without any extreme expectation of privacy.

      2) Every mall i have visited (and everyone visited by people i know) has had a clear "agreement" posted just inside entrance doors, outlining the statement that you may be photographed or filmed or have oil paintings made of you at any time while in their Public Space and by staying you agreed to allow this. This is usually above the reminder about applicable handgun bans, but below warnings about unattended minors.

      In short, "HE DID SOMETHING I DON'T LIKE" is not the same as someone breaking the law.

       

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      Hothmonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:05pm

      Why do i doubt DecentDiscourse will live up to his name?

      Not to say I wouldn't be weirded out to see myself on that site, if not a little angry or embarrassed depending on how stupid I look in the picture. I wouldn't nessacarily defend what he did but I would defend his right to do it, because I don't see the harm it caused, especially if the press hadn't caught wind of it but even still.

      I think you, and the others so bothered by this, should take a minute and realize how often you are and can be recorded, by a corporation, the state, or private individuals, and have little control over what happens to the footage. The press caught wind of this so its a big deal and people will look for themselves if they were Apple shopping in NY, but how many pictures of you that you don't know about are on the web. Not many probably, but maybe. If there are, whats the big deal? As long as its something from when you are in public why do you care so much? That's you in public being you, are you ashamed of yourself?

      On your way to work, or at a baseball game, walking around with your family, or shopping someone can take a picture of you and do what they like with it, mostly. Is it that big a deal? You know people are looking at you, or can be instantly, when you do it why do you care so much that someone else can look at it later?

      Not trying to make F.U.D but really if its a picture of your face in public whats the big deal. Sure a lot of hypotheticals make this worse; a stalker, associated statements(fictional[if not clear] or true[if personal]), or using your image to sell things. But in this case is it not any of that so where is the problem.

      Legally depending on the state the law varies pretty wildy but I wouldn't think this violates your privacy in any state, though I am sure someone will want to try. I have a post above with some links if you care.

      "He's lucky I didn't walk into that store. I'd make sure he'd be in court for the rest of his life"

      So you could both be poor together?

       

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    Overcast (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 6:46am

    I think the government just doesn't like people infringing on their 'territory' of installing covert monitoring stuff on computers :O

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    I love art, I respect artists.

    But I sure hate "art" and "artists". This fellow was an "artist". The quotes make a difference.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Manager at Supershoes puts out boxes and boxes of donuts and opens one up on a table under a sign "free donuts" and his customers appreciate the courtesy. Manager of Greatshoes across the mall comes over, takes all the donuts back to his store and puts them on a table under a sign "free donut with purchase."

    By the logic of some people here, what the second manager did isn't illegal, because hey, the sign SAID "free" and it SAID "donutS" didn't it? It never said who could take them or how many they could take or what they could do with them later, right?

    By the logic of some other people here, what the second manager did was not only not illegal, it wasn't even WRONG.

    I just don't understand some people.

     

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      HothMonster, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 11:13am

      Re:

      its morally ambiguous but not illegal. The second manager played within the rules the first manager laid out, he just did not plan for the worst case scenario. If the sign said "free donuts for customers" it has the same affect as the original just free sign, because they do not necessarily have to purchase, but now the other manager can't take them because he is not a customer.

      In your situation the second manager is an asshole but not a criminal. Hopefully the first one learns and adapts his sign to keep this asshole from taking advantage of him again.

      What if the second guy worked at a children's cancer treatment clinic across the street and came and took half the donuts because their fridge broke and they didn't have lunch for the kids? He didn't take them all them and its for a good cause, is this still illegal in your eyes? Where is the limit?

      If you make a set of rules and people operate with in that set of rules you can not be mad about things you didn't plan for. If someone has such strict rules for their free donuts they should put it on the sign. What are the rules for the free donuts? Are their exceptions to how free they really are? Do you expect something in return? If you don't lay these things out and people interrupt those questions in their own way its your fault not theirs. Everyone is not a mind reader and you shouldn't expect that everyone will view every situation the same as you.

      Quickly flip this situation around. If a law says "no murder" what does that mean? Exactly what it says, it doesn't mean I am allowed only 1 murder, or I can murder with purchase and you can not argue vague reasons why somethings may or may not apply. It just mean NO FUCKING MURDER.

      Your sign just means the donuts are free. If they are free with a catch or free with a limit that should be expressed.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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