Yes, when you're in public you have no legal expectation of privacy. However, when you're using a computer at an Apple store, you're also not expecting that the webcam is snapping photos of you that will be posted online.
What he misses entirely is that what constitutes "legal" is not entirely congruent with social norms. Especially as it relates to what will happen to us in public. Legality defines the hard boundaries of our social expectations. We normally set those boundaries at a point where someone is "harmed". The broad social contract is that we won't trample all over each other, physically or emotionally, so we establish laws at the boundaries. Cross the boundary and you face punishment.
For example, it's not illegal to take photos of people on the street, yet US society has a love-hate relationship with the paparazzi. They're not breaking the law, but there are plenty of people who... uh... strongly dislike them. Kyle crossed over in to the same territory. Not illegal, but definitely hanging out on the fringes of socially acceptably behavior.
EDIT: removed sentence that probably overstepped HN norms around meanness.
Although I understand that you are under no social or ethical obligation to do so, I would appreciate your deleting your quote of the sentence.
That would freak most people out. There would be complaints, and he'd be escorted out & told to not return.
Legal? yes, but only because we'd rather not have laws applying the police power of the state against nigh unto every conceivable human interaction however defined.
Thus I wouldn't be at all certain that the artist here hasn't gone over the lines of legality.
I'm hardly a fan of Apple policies in general but it seems to me that here that sending the Secret Service after this guy is a both legal and appropriate act.
I disagree with the parent's claim that legal boundaries are the hard boundaries. Many legal boundaries are extraordinarily fuzzy, often to the detriment of civil liberties ("disorderly conduct" is a real crime for example). Oddly enough, here is a situation where a somewhat fuzzy law seems somewhat appropriate.
I believe he only mentions getting permission to photograph. It seems that he took at as a permission to install an app that would photograph. Maybe there was something I missed. If so, show me a quote.
Or maybe I'm wrong and after years of relinquishing your own privacy, you simply have no respect for the privacy of others.
Really?? Over the years, I've become conditioned to assume that if I see any kind of camera lens pointing in my general direction, I am being recorded and that data is going somewhere.
I think what's not congruent with social norms is that people still assume that cameras are turned off and aren't recording them & being saved somewhere.
I also don't think we're done discussing this topic.. when people start wearing Google glasses everywhere, will everyone finally admit to themselves that they are being recorded almost all the time?
No, people assume that security cameras will be used for their intended purpose. Our expectations are guided by context. The camera is the tip of the iceberg. Behind it is a whole set of intentions. What it will record, who will view it, and what will be done with that recording. The fact that it's a security camera provides implied answers to all of the "what, who, why" questions.
The rules of these contexts aren't written down in any rule book, because if we did that, we'd spend our whole lives writing out rule books rather than living.
I'm not suggesting that what Kyle did should be illegal. No one was harmed. Some people might have felt uncomfortable, but no one was harmed.
I am saying that we should be free to dislike him for it. He won't be harmed, but it might make him feel a little uncomfortable. Then again, maybe it won't.
Some people might have felt uncomfortable
Art is supposed to provoke an emotional response, be it positive or negative. I love it when people walk up to a painting a say something like "This painting looks very angry. I don't like it at all." That's exactly what art is about and only people who are comfortable with being uncomfortable will fully appreciate it.
Do you really expect that any camera put up in public is taking your picture to be posted on a website somewhere as part of an exhibit?
As hackers and engineers, we live in a world of specifications, rules, and absolutes. Most people aren't like us. You can't nail down the exact line between "right and wrong", because there is no exact line. It's a moving target, but asking whether something is right or wrong is asking the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself how your actions will make the other person feel. If you suspect it will make them uncomfortable, then ask yourself if it's worth it.
Be honest with yourself about it. Kyle knew something was up, because he felt the need to conceal his actions. Maybe he still would have gone ahead with the project, but he seems unwilling to admit that what he was doing was in any kind of gray area.
> Art is supposed to provoke an emotional response, be it positive or negative. I love it when people walk up to a painting a say something like "This painting looks very angry. I don't like it at all." That's exactly what art is about and only people who are comfortable with being uncomfortable will fully appreciate it.
Sure. Personally, I found Kyle's project deeply interesting. I was drawn to the idea like the scent of BBQ on the grill (mmmm, BBQ), because I love to "feel". I don't mean to judge him or his project. I don't even mean to say that I think he shouldn't have done it. I just think that we should be aware of the difference between a painting that is offensive to those who choose to see it and commandeering someone's privacy in the name of art.
But in this case people are being made uncomfortable against their will. And that's not ok.
I find the project to be unsettling and interesting at the same time. It is interesting to be able to turn the recording results back over to the public and draw some conclusions from them.
For instance, there was a comment worrying about "the computer" de-socializing us as a species. It seems to me that a "stone face" is just the default expression when we are not directly conveying non-verbal information. How often do you think you make faces during deep sleep?
Do people normally smile at things they are considering buying? This is a genuine question. I can't remember smiling at an inanimate object i was thinking of purchasing. That being said, i DO smile and laugh or cringe at times while reading a book on a computer, or watching a video, so maybe there ARE times?
I expect that security cameras record me.
I do not expect that the recordings will be posted on the internet.
I do expect that whoever is recording them will take some reasonable measures to secure their contents.
Those are just my expectations. There's no law against violating these expectations, but can't we all agree that the world is a more pleasant place when we respect others' expectations and avoid trampling on them where possible?
Unfortunately, reality is messy and your expectations are somewhat obsolete on this one.
This is a really good illustration of just how out of touch hackers can be. Just because you found what you believe to be an exception does not mean that everyone's expectations are invalid.
I think the motivations are different here, although the acts are similar the reasons are not.
It seems Kyle's mistake was in publishing the results of surveillance. We don't care if we are watched, because we don't have to form a belief in the reality of the images stored. We do care if we see ourselves published, because that makes the reality of being watched undeniable.
Consider for comparison the TSA body scanner images being seen to be seen by agents at the scanner, versus not seen being seen by agents in a room. Passengers were not ok with the first, but ok with the second.
These examples offer a roadmap to a happily ignored surveillance society.
They could be webcams but the more common explanation is that they are visual sensors to detect cars in the turning lane, replacing the old wire loops in the pavement:
// Cool link, thanks. Shared with cyclist friends.
I feel that when you ask an employee for permission, they automatically assume that you are up to something negative. They are usually not in a position of authority to grant you access to anything anyway. Now that you asked for their permission, they feel like they are personally responsible for whatever you do with the photos. The easiest way for them to CYA is for them to say "no."
For things like restaurant menu boards I wouldn't be worried. Installing apps on computers I do not own (and owned by a very large corporation) without explicit permission? Not so much
I'd even say the most clear definition, Downloading an app from an external website and executing it, is pretty clearly in the allowed list - These machines exist to demonstrate Apple computers, and Installing an app is a not entirely unheard of action after purchasing. There's a reasonable expectation that Apple could prevent it if they wanted, and that the 'harm' done to them is virtually zero - They re-image their machines all the time. So where is the boundary?
Obviously, in this case, it's where people started feeling creeped out by it... but this was by no means a secret service investigation. This was a high-school level prank, and it saddens me that we live in a world where people would take enough offense - where people are so mistrustful of one another - where people are so litigious, that federal law enforcement is called in after such.
However the fact that he felt he needed to hide what he was doing by using tumblr etc makes me feel that he knew there was a line (however blurry it might be) and that he was crossing it.
"Sometimes I would open another tab and load Flickr or Open Processing so I had an excuse if someone asked why I was comparing every single computer."
If he truly thought what he was doing was legal (or morally right), he wouldn't have had to do this. Instead, he chose to hide the fact he was installing software on Apple's computers.
The Book of Tea... requires a mutual understanding between the artist and the spectator:
> The sympathetic communion of minds necessary for art appreciation must be based on mutual concession. The spectator must cultivate the proper attitude for receiving the message, as the artist must know how to impart it.
And the success of “People Staring at Computers” is based on condemnation rather than mutual concession. In a way, inviting condemnation can be the most effective way of imparting a message.
I think Duchamp understood the possibilities of condemnation as an alternative to mutual concession. He addresses this in his short essay, “The Creative Act“ . He says once an artist gives their work to the spectator, it’s up to the spectator to make a decision about that work.
Had this article come out at the same time, I think that discussion would have gone better.
Evans organised publication of the images in book form, which I suppose would render the publisher liable if any of the passengers wanted to seek any form of redress (they did not).
In this case, Apple was the unwitting publisher with no editorial involvement, hence the action seems reasonable.
Maybe I'll add a mirror to my desk to make faces in throughout the day.
When someone had your password, it’s not just that they could access any information, but that they could become you.
When people send you an email, there is an expectation of privacy.
But most of the emails were from reporters and journalists. I wrote a form response and started replying to everyone, letting them know the EFF had encouraged me not to talk about it. This was a really difficult moment. I felt like everything was arranged in a way to keep discussion limited, to keep people working against each other instead of working together.
Hundreds and hundreds of comments, on dozens of major blogs. I’m no stranger to publicity, but this was on a completely different scale. Everyone had an opinion and wanted to argue with each other. Yet I had to remain completely silent.
The above quotes when left to ponder are really profound. Pointing the easy to notice things are indeed the easy to ignore.
In the other comments, I started to notice a trend: people were trying to establish definitions. They were arguing about ethics and ontology (even though no one called it that). The project hit a nerve that made people uncomfortable enough that they had to share their opinions and argue their positions. If you’re at school studying art, philosophy, or politics, this isn’t a big deal. These discussions happen over lunch, or in the hallways. But this was happening on the internet.
Everything and anything happens on the internet, and if there is no identity attached to the actions, the truer they become of the person, than in real life where people are bound to act by social commonsense.
With “People Staring at Computers,” I saw something new: a massive audience engaged in a collective decision-making about the culture they wanted to adopt, in realtime, via comment threads strewn across blog posts and news articles
Its not new. It started right when internet started. If some other way to mass communicate was possible before, it would have started then as well.