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‘Creepy Cameraman’ pushes limits of public surveillance (geekwire.com)
240 points by turoczy on Nov 4, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments

This is nothing like public surveillance, just as Google's use of tracking cookies is nothing like having a random stranger look over your shoulder and stare as you search the web.

This cameraman walks up to and harasses specific people. When you are in public, and there's a surveillance camera, you aren't being targeted specifically. You're no more interesting than anyone else in the frame. Moreover, it's highly unlikely that anyone's full-time job consists solely of watching the one camera that happens to point towards you. Maybe there is a guard watching an array of a dozen cameras. The unit of human attention directed towards you is much, much less.

Furthermore, a creepy guy holding a camera is a very different type of potential threat than a camera mounted on a wall. The people filmed don't know that he's just going to film them. He could begin mumbling erratically, ask them for money, or even physically attack them. All of these possibilities are especially likely considering he already violated social norms by wordlessly coming up to them with a camera.

I don't think this demonstrates anything about surveillance. The guy is a jerk and I found myself empathizing with his victims. I don't buy the point he's supposedly trying to prove.

Have you ever spent time in a security station with decent cameras? I can only imagine what they are like now, but in the late 90s, after we put up our new headquarters, that included a NOC (and therefor a 24x7 security station), we had the bubble cameras with really, really amazing zoom. The security team, having absolutely nothing to do (this was sunnyvale on Mathilda Avenue, not really a hot bed of things to be worried about) - spent all of their time using the camera to intrude on people's privacy, in a very intimate manner. They zoomed on apartments, they zoomed on cars, they zoomed on hotel windows. They were able to count the change at the fast food restaurant across the road. And this happened all without people ever being aware.

The difference with the cameraman, is he is letting people know what he is doing - there is no deception. That's the entire point, people are under _incredible_ amounts of surveillance, without their permission. Sometimes very intimate moments are being captured.

So - while it feels extraordinarily intrusive to deal with this guy, if it gets a conversation going around what's being captured, and recorded, without your knowledge - then I think some good can come of it.

And knowing this, do you make an effort to avoid surveillance cameras or petition their removal? Do you go to any great lengths to improve your personal privacy more than your peers who don't know this? I know it too, but I'm still not bothered by surveillance cameras, I just ignore them and I'd probably just ignore this dude too. Brent Spiner would do his 'death stare' (http://telly.com/OFUVJ#none). It's important to remember his videos don't show everyone, they probably only show the most entertaining reactions, I'm sure plenty of people just ignored him. (Even in the video people who have business elsewhere do just ignore him, they walk right by.)

> Do you go to any great lengths … ?

If he does not, does that disqualify him from holding an opinion on surveillance cameras? Is he complicit in their proliferation if he has not significantly altered his life in protest?

The only chance we have for avoiding a disturbingly Orwellian surveillance culture is to combat the public ignorance about the extent and power of the systems now in construction.

> I just ignore them and I'd probably just ignore this dude too.

In contrast, I thought the strong reactions from the people on film were admirable. Running away without expressing disapproval is cowardly; if I were with my family, I would give the guy fair warning, then rush him for being predatory.

> If he does not ...

No, I'm just interested if his behavior is significantly different from those around him that are ignorant. Because for me, it's not. And if that's true in the general case,

> The only chance ... combat the public ignorance ...

is false.

> Running away

is not the same as ignoring. Also, one can hardly express one's disapproval if one is indifferent.

> ... I would give the guy fair warning, then rush him for being predatory.

If I were the guy, I'd make sure to charge you with as many crimes as I could. Just because you announce your intention to beat up an annoying jerk before you actually beat them up doesn't make it acceptable behavior.

This brings up an interesting twist to the conversation: Should it be considered self-defense to defend your privacy? That seems to be one possible category for the discussion: "do you care enough to defend yourself" (petitions and such) extended to "if you do care enough to do it, what should be your legal limit of self defense? Is your privacy an extension of your self?"

In countries where privacy is a well defined and better protected concept, courts have ruled that actions such as destroying the camera used can be covered under self-defense [1].

[1]: http://www.burhoff.de/insert/?/asp_weitere_beschluesse/inhal... He [the accused] does not have to confine himself to covering his face, but may choose a defense that is suitable to end the attack immediately and permanently

> No, I'm just interested if his behavior is significantly different from those around him that are ignorant. Because for me, it's not. And if that's true in the general case,

A very important point to discuss. While I don't know specifically his change of behavior there are more widely known cases to discuss.

For example Soviet Union and East Germany. I can tell you that the behavior of people was different, especially on the phone where part of the surveillance took place. Youth, being mostly ignorant about that in some cases got their parents in trouble which in turn affected parents' behavior at home.

I think the takeaway from these and other cases is that public's change of behavior is function of security services' activities (corrupt or not). All it takes is several known cases of visits from the authorities about things one said over the voip or im conversation. Or the authorities pressuring their catch for money or cooperation in unrelated case to 'help them out'.

I also think this directly affects how free we feel. If we would constantly have to guard what we write in e-mails as to not to be remotely connected to what might be seen as mentioning the current enemy of choice, then some freedom is lost.

>In contrast, I thought the strong reactions from the people on film were admirable. Running away without expressing disapproval is cowardly; if I were with my family, I would give the guy fair warning, then rush him for being predatory.

In this case I would not see running/walking away as cowardly. By staying or making a scene he will continue filming you and therefore possible having film of you doing some action you may later regret or at least could be edited to make you look like you're in the wrong. It's also unlikely you would actually get the camera footage from the camera man. I think the best course of action would be to contact a local law enforcement officer and then proceed with a court case if you didn't like the out come of that or wanted to pursue getting the video footage. Really though if you just walk away I think they camera man would just leave you alone.

"If I were with my family, I would give the guy fair warning, then rush him for being predatory"

Photographing people in public places is not "being predatory". In fact, it's perfectly legal in the U.S. So you'd get probably get charged with assault.

Stalking is not legally, and his videoer freely admits to stalking.

I think stalking requires an ongoing effort to track somebody, or repeat offences. I'm not sure you could actually get this guy with stalking.

> it's highly unlikely that anyone's full-time job consists solely of watching the one camera that happens to point towards you.

Until you start behaving "suspiciously", that is. Not long ago there was a Dutch documentary about advances in surveillance camera technology and the privacy implications thereof. They then demonstrated how they could follow somebody walking through town by switching from camera to camera. All from a control room with a hundred video monitors. Downright Orwellian. So yes, there are people controlling these cameras full time from these control rooms and they're actively monitoring everybody.

They also follow people with cameras like in the OP but the reaction is wildly different. People shockingly seem to be mostly OK with it.

Full documentary (in Dutch): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYTN1IMBuYU - See e.g. 31 minutes in.

Moreover, it's highly unlikely that anyone's full-time job consists solely of watching the one camera that happens to point towards you.

How about the full-time job of one algorithm? Taken across N cameras, no actual person needs to watch any single camera. You can be targeted directly if the watcher controls a subset of N that captures you.

There is little difference between the output of one man and one camera following you around all day, and the result of N cameras stitched together algorithmically and watched by one person. In fact the machine managed version would be far superior given the increased range of capture N cameras (not required to be held by a human) provide.

Yes, the guy is annoying and I am surprised nobody beat him up. But the guy is not the point of this experiment - the camera is. An alternative experiment design could be placing the camera on a tripod at ground level and standing aloof a few feet away. I think just bringing the cameras down to ground level from the ceiling could be a big enough jump into the zone of discomfort for most people.

Sounds a lot like a TV show ("Person of Interest"). While the show is fiction, I think we need to consider that some day the technology might be feasible even on a small scale. Read Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother".

That algorithm is likely to stay hypothetical for some time. Facial recognition has a long way to go before it's practical. Your scenario also would require a lot more cameras being added at great expense, and/or cooperation among the many public and private entities that operate cameras.

I'm not without my own concerns about surveillance, but let's not celebrate someone's antisocial behavior simply because he claims to be making a point. I think filming with a tripod, if it's not aimed at anyone in particular, would be far less offensive, but useless as a demonstration for that same reason.

"That algorithm is likely to stay hypothetical for some time."

I interviewed someone a few weeks ago whose prior job was maintaining such an algorithm for use in shopping malls. They had a database that you could issue queries like "Given that a person goes to store X, how long on average will it be until they return?" or "Are women who shop at Victoria's Secret likely to visit The Gap in the same month?" and so on. His job was applying that knowledge to affect what ads were displayed on the video screens that people walked past in the mall.

(Yes, the project was self-consciously inspired by "Minority Report". Apparently nobody found that creepy.)

Oh, that is interesting. There was a UK-based company doing the same thing (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/20/tracking_phones/) but using the TMSIs of GSM phones.

Seems they are still around as: http://www.pathintelligence.com/

They were using USRP 1s (universal software radio peripheral, from Ettus Research) at the time, although they might have switched hardware platforms by now.

FWIW, Las Vegas casinos use facial recognition to recognize card counters and other 'undesirables.' One of my Dad's clients (he's an engraver) was head of security for Caeser's Palace and his assertion was that the cameras were 85 - 90% effective at picking up someone as they walked in the door, and 100% effective at identifying them if they loitered in the casino for more than about 15 minutes. Granted its anecdotal, its backed up by the guys who well these systems to Casinos promising this capability but still.

I've never had a chance to talk to them about false positives or negatives so I can't really put their numbers in perspective but they seem to project facial recognition as a 'solved problem.'

Your anecdote (and goodside's) are indeed a bit scary. Of course, tracking faces within an enclosed space (casino, shopping mall) is not the same as tracking someone's movement throughout a whole city. But maybe it could be applied on the streets of certain “high-crime”, downtown areas and spread from there. I admit I'm troubled by the thought of the executive power available when such a scenario becomes normal. We need to match this technological innovation with some form of social innovation that keeps police accountable, but obviously “who watches the watchers?” is a difficult and unsolved problem.

To track someone through a crowd, you don't necessarily need continuous facial recognition. You can tag the identity to a person once using facial recognition or other means (credit card or ATM use if you have that data), and then revert to a more basic motion tracking system to follow them around.

I don't know much continuous object tracking across multiple cameras, but I highly doubt it's a difficult problem as long as the cameras have some overlap.

I had a professor show me just this kind of algorithm almost 10 years ago, I have since seen other demonstrations of it as well. To find and follow a face is not hard, heck I can unlock my cell phone with my face.

Also claiming this is Anti-Social is the whole point, individuals can be called Anti Social because its easier for people to fight (be anti) them and make them conform. Governments and large corporations, on the other hand, are harder to fight and thus Society justifies allowing their behavior until enough people group to together to force a change.

This video is a metaphorical call to arms in that sense.

In the Netherlands, we already have trams with facial recognition cameras: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/09/facial_recogni...

But in the UK a lot of their cameras are mounted on cars which are driven by gov employees who roam around, park on specific streets then the person actually controls the camera and aims it, not as unsmilar to this. They are called CCTV cars you can check on YouTube. It's a completely normal thing there and will be here soon as well. So the way he does it is pretty close to reality, just more visible for people to see.

Thanks for the info — I wasn't aware of this practice. I found a video of a protester filming the people in the CCTV cars:


This protest, I can get behind. The equivalence is much greater and they've targeted the people doing the surveillance.

> This protest, I can get behind. The equivalence is much greater and they've targeted the people doing the surveillance.

I don't see anything wrong with this practice? It's just parking enforcement.

In my area, whenever a parking warden issues a ticket, they have to take photographs of the violation (the vehicle parked on yellow lines, expired ticket, etc.), of the ticket on the vehicle (stuck to the windscreen, under a wiper blade), showing the license plate, as well as the relevant parking signage.

Why do they do this? Because in the past motorists have tried every trick in the book to get out of fines. They weren't parked illegally, their ticket hadn't expired, they never received the fine, the signage was missing, obscured or incorrect.

It's a cat and mouse game, and if the last trick up the councils' sleeves is to record the parking infringement on video, then so be it.

It's a completely normal thing there

No, it really isn't, and I'm not sure what motive there is to claim otherwise, especially as you clearly don't live here. It's been in trial/used in a few boroughs of larger towns, though in fact there have been a number of boroughs that have removed them after complaints (Richmond which is a London borough removed theirs in 2011, with the councilors themselves disliking them).

I've lived in London and a couple more large towns/cities over the last 4 years and have never seen one or heard of one being used in a local area.

They're pretty frequent around the Islington area and outside of London. Same with the DVLA cards with ANPR cameras that park up on busy roads; and the yellow police vans with 'CCTV Unit' plastered on the side.

'Course, we can all say what we have and haven't seen and go on for ages, without some hard stats.

Head outside the major cities (London, Birmingham, Manchester, etc.) and these kind of vehicles are exceptionally rare.

It's widely deployed these days, throughout the country not just in London.

I'm not really sure what they're supposed to do. You don't see them working late Friday / Saturday nights (the revellers just get a bit too rowdy around the delicate camera i suppose).

I should probably do a FOIA request and see what they achieve in my area.

If you do, do it through http://whatdotheyknow.com/ so that everyone can see the response.

I see one nearly every day in Lambeth in London. It's a Smart Car with "Parking Enforcement" written and a pole with a camera mounted on it attached to the top.

Um dude there's police "CCTV vans" everywhere.


We've had a few issues with covert cameras in parts of Birmingham. The latest on the story above is that the removal and disposal of the cameras will cost a further £300k on top of the £3m to fit.

Returning to the original article; in the UK, this guy would be having a conversation with the police rather quickly, especially if he appears to be targeting individuals.

The crux of the matter here is why people react so negatively to being recorded on video. You seem to believe it is because the person doing the recording might attack or ask for money. I don't really buy this argument, since being asked for money is not really threatening, and there are so few people who turn violent randomly that it is not something one would assume immediately of strangers.

Most likely, the reason people become angry when recorded is due to a privacy concern since they do not know what the recorder will do with the video. In this case, I think this guy does make a valid point. There is no way to tell what will happen to surveillance camera footage. Yes, theoretically it should only be used in special circumstances, but until it is codified into law, and even if it is, there's really no guarantee.

being asked for money is not really threatening

It can be, if it's someone who won't take no for an answer. I've been approached in public by mentally unstable or drugged men sometimes (certain neighborhoods here). They can be persistent. If they choose your table to sit at, they won't want to leave. In a country that took better care of its poor, they might get treatment, but that's another issue. It's unpleasant in any case.

Of topic, I know, but I find it ironic (in a bad way) that the US put many of these people on the street to save them from the even worse conditions that existed in state hospitals[1]. As somebody with a loved-one with a serious mental illness, I don't find where we've landed to be an improvement.

1. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/31/9/2138.full?sid=...

> Moreover, it's highly unlikely that anyone's full-time job consists solely of watching the one camera that happens to point towards you.

That was my point of view a decade ago when video surveillance came to my city. I saw that mostly as backup if something bad occurred, since nobody could process that much data.

Then came stories about TrapWire. Whether they are true or not, one thing is certain : it is possible to automatically process those data, and therefore at some point, we will do it. That's too much valuable for anyone with the mean to do it to simply discard it as unethical. There will always be any kind of "greater good" argument (war against terrorism, order, police efficiency over cost of patrols, you name it).

We can't simply say : we won't use those technologies. It won't happen. As individuals, we probably will even encourage it, carrying tracing devices like mobile phone or google glasses everywhere. Because, those devices offer so much to our day to day life. Who wouldn't say mobile 3g phones with google maps changed their life ?

Yet, when you activate google account report and has an android device with geolocation features opted in, google tell you precisely where you went past month, lists your friends addresses (without mentioning they're friend home, just "you went there repeatedly"), tell you how much time you spent at home, and how much time you spent at work. And that's perfectly natural to them : you said you were ok to send data about your location.

If we just let things go, we will have to accept privacy is a deprecated concept in a few decades, and enjoy the almost omniscience. I can't see privacy being a first class human right without any strong political will. But right now, even if we speak of it from time to time, most people don't care about privacy that much.

Though I agree with your point that the confrontation is different , your wrong when it comes to passive surveillance.

It's not 1980 anymore, surveillance is often stored and put through pattern recognition analysis (in real-time), heavily staffed, and backed up by a network.

Also this is a very advancing field in terms of behavior analysis, prediction and cohesion metrics. Because this is all done behind the scenes you somehow feel safer, but you should not be, that is the point of the video.

A current advanced systems can use flag algorithms to elevate "scenarios".

Example 1:

You walk into a place for breakfast and you have an angry face (your flagged as upset/angry +1). You then rent a large white truck which does not suit your previous daily/monthly patterns (+1 this is suspicious activity). You start driving towards a gardening center (+10 suddenly the fbi show up)

Example 2:

You have an argument in the mall with someone (+1 emotional comprised) Your walking 10 minutes later and an ad targets your emotional state to buy something (regret).

Cookies cannot do that.

> When you are in public, and there's a surveillance camera, you aren't being targeted specifically.

Well, you certainly might be targeted specifically -- you have no way of knowing, since the observers are physically and probably temporally distant. You just don't have any direct feedback indicating whether or not you are, and so it seems more acceptable.

He is not doing anything illegal. However a few of his "victims" assaulted him, he could totally press charges for battery, and then sue them in civil court as well.

> He is not doing anything illegal.

I'm not familiar with the US legal code, but this sounds like a grey area. What about harassment, or disturbing the peace, etc. Unless you're a lawyer with significant experience in the area, I doubt it's as clear cut as you make out.

I would agree that there is grey area, but I would compare this to some guy walking up and commenting on your grey hair, then you, offended, punch him in the face. If we take that to the extremes then maybe it would be harassment or disturbing the peace, but at face value I say your the only person committing a crime there.

Depends on how long the guy who comments on your hair hangs around. Does he move on or does he stay and comment on your nose?

In Europe (and we see this all over the world now) we also have what I would call network surveillance, for example the "Data Retention Directive" in EU[0].

The philosophy is: «We are observing you and saving the data, but if you do not do anything illegal no one would ever see what we have recorded. So, you can't really call it surveillance."

These are actual arguments made in this debate, and it reminds me that we are not only under surveillance by cameras, but also online.

What this guy is doing in the videos is (probably) not illegal, just really offensive and obtrusive. Equally disrespectful are the surveillance cameras, only they are hidden away. Out of sight, out of mind.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Retention_Directive

From your link:

Under the directive the police and security agencies will be able to request access to details such as IP address and time of use of every email, phone call and text message sent or received. A permission to access the information will be granted only by a court.

If they require a court order, that is a significant safeguard, and much better than police/security having access to the saved data at will. Or perhaps I should say it would be much worse without the safeguard; retaining that data still looks creepy to me.

I'm a fairly strong privacy advocate, but even I don't think this particular kind of legislation is being implemented with malicious intent.

It does serve a purpose, helping bring an awful lot of people to justice. By that I don't mean people committing mundane 'crimes' like copyright infringement, but serious criminals like murderers and rapists are often caught out, or at least have the case against them strengthened, by their online search histories, or the location of their cell phone when an incident took place, or SMS messages they sent to accomplices, so on and so forth.

This experiment would have been equally disturbing to people had he done everything the same but not held a camera. The camera is not what is creeping people out.

If I was in a classroom and someone came and stood five feet away and just told me they were watching me, I would be on edge as well.

Yes, the dynamic he's creating is different from what we experience with security cameras for at least two reasons: He's getting into people's personal space, and he's clearly focusing on individual people.

But what if he did neither of these things? What if he instead sat on a bench, set up a tripod, put on a wide lens, and recorded everything happening in a crowded public space? My guess is that people wouldn't react as strongly. But I wonder how they would feel. What do you think?

In the UK? It depends. Any children anywhere around and he'd be in for a hard time. Unlucky with the police officers he got? He'd be in for a hard time. Not great with the answers he gives? He'd be in for a hard time.

Photography in public is one of those topics that opens the door to armchair lawyers. People who have no training and little knowledge who just make stuff up off the top of their heads.

Interestingly in the UK there are specific exemptions for journalists. I'm not sure how tightly defined journalists are; there are press badges and journalistic qualifications, but that feels like a little bit of law that hasn't caught up with the Internet.

Exactly. I hate how he's pretending to make some elaborate statement, but in reality is just being childish and annoying.

I mean, he is making an elaborate statement. People don't yell at him because he's standing there, they yell at him because he's filming them. He's not breaking any law (except for arguably when he keeps entering the Church of Scientology), and is exercising his liberties.

The words "childish" and "annoying" are dangerous to throw around here, because it creates a culture of non-acceptance and weirdness for someone who is doing nothing wrong. This is how liberties erode.

Not doing anything wrong legally perhaps, but it definitely goes against common social norms. Notice most people don't actually yell at him, but just ask him what he's doing and ask him (politely) to leave. It's only when he doesn't, that people get upset.

I guess he's just "exercising his liberties", but that doesn't make it elaborate. Unless pointing out that people don't like awkwardness is all of sudden an elaborate statement.

Beyond any notion of it being a protest against the concept of a surveillance society, it's actually quite an interesting social experiment.

The responses are fascinating. A lot of people quick to anger. Many more people who have some — I'm assuming, although I'm no expert on the law in the particular area — false impression that they cannot be filmed without their permission. An alarming number of people who are prepared to call 911 over such a trivial matter.

I've never seen anything quite like this before.

It's also interesting that some people thought he was impeding one of their rights when really it was the other way around.

Did you see the bit where he walks among an orchestra?

How well would you work if I stood quite close to you, behind you, looking over your shoulder. "Ignore me! I'm just observing. Pretend I'm not here." I suspect many people would find that disturbing in a deep and hard to define way.

He's not doing anything illegal, but that doesn't mean he's not doing anything wrong. He is being rude, and he is confrontational.

Let's put it this way: he's not violating any legal rules, but he is violating some social rules. Whether that's doing something "wrong" or not is subjective, I think.

You are projecting.

Just because that is your approach, doesn't mean that it's true for him.

Exactly, it's a faulty analogy. A person with a camera is an immediate threat to react to. People are well aware of cameras in supermarkets, yet they still go inside.

Because in that case they have no choice. They want to get whatever the store has. Here they can argue with the person taking the video. In fact, the video taker is specifically targeting them, which raises only more questions for the subjects being filmed.

Maybe it's some sort of evolutionary fear, like when a lion keeps staring at the antelope

Also, it violates our sense of fairness. A security camera is watching everyone equally. Suppose we do the same with 1000 cameramen following 1000 people in the same square, how would people react?

Of course it would be equally disturbing, but what I find disturbing is that any wall-mounted camera could have someone behind it as well. In fact, it could be on display on some URL (google for "google hacks camera").

Beware of the gargoyles: http://www.cyberartsweb.org/cpace/cyborg/kawstretch.html

«Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider; there getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculater pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society. They are a boon to Hiro because they embody the worst stereotype of the CIC stringer. They draw all of the attention. The payoff for this self-imposed ostracism is that you can be in the Metaverse all the time, and gather intelligence all the time. [Snowcrash 123-124]»

Can someone comment on whether or not he is actually breaking any laws? Especially when simply recording on public streets?

At least based on this article "Know Your Rights: Photographers" (http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographe...) what he is doing is perfectly legal: video-taping while standing on public property. On private property it is not ok and you have to leave when asked, which he does.

The situation only gets tricky because of the audio, and in this case it matters what state you're in. Still, it seems like the legality hinges on "reasonable expectation of privacy", which someone casually sitting at a Starbucks probably does not, or at least should not have. Also, in all cases the subject is clearly aware of being recorded.

On the other hand, in one of the clips two guys call the police and he runs away trying to avoid confrontation. That seems odd.

Ignoring the photography - people could feel threatened or harassed. I think (but I do not know) that there are laws to help people who are being harassed.

Running is a good idea because many photographers - not creepy photographers - have been arrested for taking photographs of the public, in public.

The Metropolitan Police (London, UK) had to give advice to officers and the public about the law because so many people were being harassed unfairly.


Yes, after their name has been dragged through the mud for being "that creepy photographer who got arrested by the cops".

Unless your intent is to become a civil rights test case, avoiding police confrontation as a photographer is almost always the best move.

If I got paid $100,000 for every unlawful arrest, I wouldn't give a crap about what some random newspaper wrote.

> Can someone comment on whether or not he is actually breaking any laws? Especially when simply recording on public streets?

IANAL but the main difference between surveillance video and his supposed demonstration here is that he is publishing them for public viewing.

I expect that would require a release form of some kind to be signed as as such is violating some laws.

The act of videoing itself is probably not against the law, but doing it without the express permission of the subjects with the view of publishing it later, is.

This is untrue, a least in the US.

Publishing is perfectly legal, though commercial use[1] opens one up to potential suits.

This usage is very clearly editorial. This guy is on solid legal ground.

[1] Commercial use is a legally tested term, not a lay one. It does not mean "selling for money", but has more to do with implied endorsements. You cannot, for example, take a picture of someone and then sell it to Apple for use on a billboard, not without a release.

I think the point here is that the notion of privacy is actually quite a complicated one. If you asked people in a cafe or a supermarket if they knew they were being videoed then they'd probably say "yes" and be able to point to one of several nearby surveillance cameras, but if you dismount the surveillance camera and hold it manually close to someone then the reaction according to these videos is usually one of surprise shortly followed by hostility.

If the creepy cameraman keeps up his antics then sooner or later he's going to get arrested for stalking, and yet this kind of constant and very intrusive surveillance is going on online all the time, and with new laws it's probably going to become still more intrusive.

Why don't people react the same way to surveillance cameras in supermarkets, streets, offices, etc or to the even more extensive surveillance online (think "warrantless wiretapping" or mobile phone geolocation data)? I think this is primarily due to anthropomorphic factors, plus habituation. The online and CCTV surveillance isn't "in your face" and invading your personal space in quite the same manner as someone holding a security camera. Plus, in the early days of CCTV introduction in the 1980s and 1990s there were some people who reacted badly to seeing cameras watching them in stores, but gradually over time society has just become habituated to that being the normative situation.

There is also the idea of accountability. Get recorded by a camera inside McDonalds, and you know it's unlikely to be used for stalking or similar - it's not worth the PR damage to the company to do so. Same with cameras in a supermarket. Plus if you get scared, just wander away.

But when the camera is held by a stranger who you don't know, who's not engaging with you, and who follows you around, there's no sense of accountability. You don't know who he is should you want to follow up with the authorities.

As a sociological experiment I wonder what would happen if the cameraman was replaced by a mobile robot with a camera. Would people still react in the same way?

Couple of trends I've noticed:

1) Recording and Web streaming technology has reached the point where it's cheaper and easier to buy and install a bunch of 802.11n cameras and configure them to stream to Web than to buy a configure a home security system and fiddle with installation, DVR, hard drives, etc.

2) People manage their privacy expectations. I live in a complex that's next to a public park, and our HOA forum erupted when it turned out one of the neighbors was surreptitiously recording the view of the park, and posted a video of an unleashed dog, which is a violation of park rules. After much huffing and puffing from the dog owners who thought their privacy was being invaded, they learned the practice is in the clear, and is perfectly legal.

3) I wish companies would stop posting the "This are is under surveillance" signs. I understand the intent is to reduce crime, but this creates the false impression that a private business owner or government entity is required to post such sign on their property.

To rephrase famous Eric Schmidt quote, if you don't want something to show up on YouTube, don't perform it in public space.

Re 3:

Such signs are, in fact, required by law, at least in some jurisdictions (e.g., Canada).

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is a brilliant, fascinating, and (from the one clip I've seen) well executed social experiment.

This is similar to a strategy often employed by Scientology against their critics. Just go out and film them whenever they are in a public place.

Don't answer questions, don't give reasons, just film them. You don't need a reason; you are in a public place, you can film whoever or whatever you want.

Truly fascinating. It's very interesting how quick many of these subjects are to anger.

I don't really understand his point, it's obviously quite different to passive surveillance cameras which: don't follow you around (are avoidable); don't generally record sound with enough fidelity to discern conversations; and are operated by more reputable entities than some random creep. It wouldn't surprise me if his behaviour in the videos wasn't already illegal.

You could be under active, persistent public surveillance with no way of knowing it is happening, and this would be totally legal in many places.

Why is his behavior illegal? What law is he breaking? Public nuisance, maybe?

Your reaction depicts the typical attitude to surveillance. What this guy is trying to point out is that we are already under surveillance and we have no control over it and no idea who is doing it or how thoroughly they are doing it.

The argument that

(a) camera technology won't improve over time

(b) no entity has an EagleEye-like ability to summon surveillance footage from various cameras

(c) employees, contractors and subcontractors of such entities won't abuse their access to sensitive information

is quite weak.

I think it's reasonable to imagine a not so distant future where surveillance equipment can cover all those things: 1) are ubiquitous, 2) can record excellent audio quality (and perhaps be transcribed and automatically analyzed), and 3) is cheap enough for any venue (or random person) to own.

Exactly, the article even mentions Google Glass. Think about the future, what if everyone is recording you, your casual interactions in public. Gets as creepy as those videos pretty fast.

It is not that different though — Is your point that it is slightly easier to hide from surveillance cameras? Even the hidden ones?

"operated by more reputable entities than some random creep", you know you're talking about companies in a capitalist society, right? Not exactly famous for being particularly reputable to say the least.

The avoidable/not following around/no sound aspect comes in question with the increasing Drone popularity. And after all most of those "reputable entities" are most likely using some form of human being with various levels of "random creep"ness as the operator.

In a year or two there will be a lot of people with Google Glass that will be able to record audio and video very conspicuously in these types of settings.

Many surveillance cameras do capture sound. It's important in investigations to know what was said during an incident.

There are technologies like ShotSpotter - http://www.shotspotter.com/ - which according to the NYT has enough fidelity to pick up things like "doors slamming, birds chirping, cars on the highway, horns honking." as well as conversations:


Why do you feel safer just because every surveillance camera is "passive"? If you walk along a street, you will still be "followed" by the surveillance system over multiple cameras.

Also, think about surveillance drones - they are coming: http://rt.com/usa/news/dhs-drone-surveillance-napolitano-156...

I'd probably react same way if this guy had no camera and just stood and looked at me and listened to what I say.

Imagine if everyone got this angry whenever they noticed a CCTV camera. Imagine putting up CCTV in your store and all your customers started ranting about privacy and left, or called the police. It'd be amazing. There would be no CCTV.

Wondering how we can get people this fired up about privacy in other contexts.

Most stores that have surveillance cameras use them to deter shoplifting or robbery. So it's possible that if the stores were forced to remove their cameras, they'd have to raise their prices to make up for the lost revenue. Or, the store would just hide the cameras so the shoppers couldn't see them.

I think you are one of the very few people that truly get the point of what he's doing.

With the exception of @comice, I think almost everyone here is missing the point of what this project is about.

It's not about legality of having the right to film in public. It's an act of art to point out the discrepancies in our perceptions of how we are surveilled.

When the camera is on a wall, it just becomes an object in the environment. When the camera is attached to a person walking around, it gets pulled out of the environment and into our perceived personal space. The end result is the same, video being captured of your actions at very close range and you don't know where it's going or what's being done with it.

The only difference is what the device is attached to. This is an animal instinct at play, and is why most people totally miss the point. We don't start responding at an emotional level until it feels like another creature has locked its eyes on us.

The last part to remember is how difficult it must have been for the guy. If you have ever done street photography, you'll immediately recall the gut-level discomfort that sometimes shows up when taking photos of strangers. When your subject looks back at you with those "why are you photographing me" eyes, you shirk. It takes a lot of repeat practice doing this until you learn to ignore that discomfort. This fellow was getting up close and personal with his subjects and it must have been 10 times worse. I can imagine he really had to psyche himself up to do it before he got over the discomfort.

I find it interesting that he records everyone else and puts them up on youtube but doesn't reveal his own identity.

More of his approach is about antagonizing people and seeing how they react rather than highlighting the ubiquity of surveillance equipment.

I wonder how he would react if he was the one being antagonized.

I imagine he would react at least as negatively, given that he was bothered by surveillance enough to do this project.

This would have gotten very interesting if he had tried his experiment on the sidewalk outside of a schoolyard or daycare playground.

Unfortunately his experiment has a confusing methodology because he is introducing himself as a variable in the testing. And barging into closed rooms completely complicates the point.

Then again, maybe his objective is simply to stir up some discussion.

I'd like to see this tried with some less irritating filming method. Perhaps a small camera mounted to a moveable remote control device with a sign on it indicating that it is conducting random anonymous surveillance.

Creepy Cameraman is a Paparazzi, meaning that what he is doing to common folks on video is no different from what famous people are being subjected to everyday.

Question is why is it acceptable to us when Paparazzis do it to Hollywood stars but not when same is done to us?

It's a complicated issue however there is a difference: film stars make money from being famous. The more well known they are, the more money they get for an appearance in a film. Being famous is just as much their job as acting.

I'm not saying that they therefore have no right to privacy - I'm not even sure exactly what my views are on the issue - but there is definitely a difference.

Somewhat related: http://wilwheaton.net/2012/09/heres-my-flabby-forty-year-old...

> Being famous is just as much their job as acting.

This seems like sloppy thinking to me. Becoming famous is a potential side-effect of their acting job. With fame comes other opportunities, but that doesn't make being famous a job. Who is the employer?

Likewise, getting a good night's sleep brings opportunities to excel that might not otherwise be available. It doesn't make it my job.

They have security staff to separate the performance artists from the crazy stalker killers?

This is very interesting. Though I think everything is defunct because of the presentation of the whole thing. If he made the slightest change, i.e was holding a microphone, people would not only stop what they were doing and allow themselves to be recorded, but they'd let him ask them questions. I think there's enough evidence of this in other YouTube videos where one person calls a random person, puts on their best over zealous voice, tells them they're from a radio station and asks them embarrassing questions that the call-ey couldn't be happier to answer. As outlined in many books it's just a very basic principle of social engineering. People want to give their information out, it's just a matter of asking for it politely. If he had gone into one of those classes and asked to sit in and record it for 2 minutes, even without a purpose, I'm sure they would have been much more open to the idea. A surveillance camera is on the opposite side but the same in many ways, it's not asking anything from you and it's far enough away that people don't feel threatened by it. There is fault in both the creepy camera mans and the people he's recording's logic. The cameraman thinks that they have a problem being filmed at all, and the people think that they're less safe because they can see that they're being filmed. You can bring to their attention the fact that they're being filmed every day all you want but that doesn't change anything because it's so out of site and out of mind that they don't (and won't) see it as a threat.

An interesting situation would be where the one being recorded by C. Cameraman, pulls out their cellphone and starts recording him back. Surveillance stalemate.

Nice trolling, shows how violent and ignorant of surveillance (both the CCTV kind and from whatever existing and new gadgets bring us) society is...

Do you ever wonder how many times your "private conversation" was listened in on or recorded by some stranger (with his mobile phone e.g.), accidentally or on purpose?

The point about celebrities having to endure these things every day is excellent too ...

This reminds me of something in the philosophy of ethics:


The more remote something distasteful is from us, the more we can tolerate it. Sometimes moral decisions come down to this. It's interesting to note how this experiment is related to that.

What a terrible idea. This guy is going to get himself killed. I think there are two issues here, one that he is filming but also that he is invading personal space and picking out specific people and essentially staring at them. Tactically, if a stranger begins staring at me or targeting me in some odd way I consider them a threat to my life.

> Tactically, if a stranger begins staring at me or targeting me in some odd way I consider them a threat to my life.

Are you serious?

Going out on a limb and saying he's an American. I think people here are somewhat conditioned to say that about everything because you can CYA when you overreact.

I suppose I should have said "possible threat". I do a lot of combat/defense training and after a while you become conditioned to assess those that are behaving oddly or breaking social norms. I tend to see his actions as somewhat agressive.

I don't think that is a very strange view to have. Even if you look back to early ancestors, monkeys and animals, most of them don't like being singled out or stared at for this reason[1].


They could be just hitting on you.

Did you do an ocular threat assessment of their risk, Mac?

I think this is an interesting project, but by recording sound, isn't he breaking the law? If I'm recalling correctly, the security cameras he's talking about are legal because they don't record sound, only picture.

Or does the fact that it's in public (or at least the ones that are video taped in public) make it legal?

He is clearly not very concerned about the legality, esp by running around and recording on private property. But I guess his whole point is the there-is-a-surveillance-camera,so-how-do-you-like-being-recorded-now illustration.

It is legal in a public area because if it wasn't they would not be able to do the surveillance.

It just seems more creepy here because it is 'in your face' but actually, if you think about it, it is more creepy to be followed and recorded by a dark room full of hidden creeps when you don't even know you are being recorded or who they are.

Cameras often do record sound.

There's also systems like ShotSpotter - http://www.shotspotter.com/ - which are essentially recording, in high fidelity from numerous points within a city, the sound of everything that occurs.

Acccording to this NYT piece the system can pick up“doors slamming, birds chirping, cars on the highway, horns honking” as well as conversations.


>but by recording sound, isn't he breaking the law

Depends on if it is a one or two party state, and whether or not he constitutes a party. In Oklahoma, for example, if you and I are on the phone I can record the conversation without notifying you. In some states (New Hampshire, I think, off the top of my head) all parties to the conversation must be informed.

If he is partaking in the conversation or within earshot, he might be considered a party, and might be okay.

I am not a lawyer.

This is super annoying. Why didn't one of the people recorded pull out their cell phone and record this guy recording others, just to annoy him? And make a "point" if that is what he is trying to do? (May be somebody did, I didn't watch all the videos, just one to see what it is about)

This reminded me of an interesting episode ("The Entire History of You", s01e03) of the UK's Channel 4 series Black Mirror that touches the subject of recording our lives with a "Google Glass" type of device.


Highly recommended if you want to take a fictional look into the subject of public surveillance.

pd: in case the Channel 4 video is not available in your country: http://www.tubeplus.me/player/1968872/Black_Mirror/season_1/...

I work with a few hundred cameras over my head each day I'm used to it and I know the people who control the cameras, maybe that's what bugs people the most; not knowing who controls the cameras?

The equipment, from Pelco, is pretty advances for being almost ten years old. Supposedly you can see the date on a dime from a camera 30 feet away. They can also view the digits on gas pumps from a kilometre away on the other side of a river.

The trajectory of present technology seems to be towards a constantly greater state of communal knowledge and awareness and I can't see a way to avoid that. Once one person knows something these days, it is easier and easier every day for that knowledge to be made known to others.

I don't think the interesting debate is about whether or not we should fight the seeming inevitability of this, but rather what we can do in response to it.

What people are reacting to is the posed threat, or creepiness, of something. And what we should ascertain is whether being filmed is creepy. Being followed by a man not behaving according to social rules is an obvious possible threat that hardly needs to be proven, but how creepy it is to be surveillanced is another and more interesting point to prove.

So the experiment should be redone to factor out the creepy man. That means, either have a trusted and passive person do the filming (police, reflex-vest, etc) or to set up a tripod with a camera. Even if it was made clear that the video would be streamed to public, I think very few people would react as they did above, simply because a film camera is a lot less threatening than an unknown, weird person.

Dressing up the cameraman in different clothes and behavioural patterns would emphasize this point further. If he seem to be a tourist, a store employee, etc he would be judged less of a threat.

It's not double standard to judge creepy cameraman differently than CCTV, it's simply a rational conclusion that the cases are different.

The people are reacting to the threat that he represents, and not really to the camera he's holding. He sounds like a young adult male and acts like he is either delusional or insane. Humans perceive others acting specifically oddly to themselves as a danger and tell him to back away - they don't know that he is trying to make a point, and to them he could be a pervert, a stalker or any other bad thing. He'd get the same reaction if he stared at them or stalked them.

Stare/stalk situation:

> Threatened person: "Why are you staring/following me?"

> Perceived threat: "I'm just looking/walking."

> Threatened person: "Stop doing it or I'll call the cops."

Surveillance cameras don't get the same immediate reaction because there is no human behind it who could be an immediate danger. Also they aren't literally in your face nor as physically intimidating as an adult male would be.

The only point he proves is that perceived stalkers of unstable mental state freak people out.

There seems to be quite a bit of controversy in this thread. I think it would be interesting to ask why people have an issue with being recorded in the first place. A lot of HNers are strong on privacy but I have never really understood why.

I can't easily find your real name, so I doubt you're completely apathetic about privacy. (Mine is in my profile.)

In normal unrecorded life, you can make a fool of yourself and nobody will care after a couple weeks. Online, things are different. Your embarrassing mistakes are preserved forever. Google crawls and indexes them so that everyone can see you at your worst.

The same is true if you're being recorded. Would you like it if everyone you met knew about your fan fiction? What about a time you got drunk and made an ass of yourself? There are many things that are legal, but embarrassing. Privacy allows us to present a socially acceptable persona while pursuing bizarre or embarrassing interests. Until we get people to expand their idea of "socially acceptable", we need privacy. Without it, mavericks would be punished even more than they already are.

He needs to do the same experiment, but instead of putting it in their face, attach the camera to the wall and point it at them and walk off. see if they accept the filming then

Already the case with British cops: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7510715.stm

Omg. After reading other comments, first thing I'd do when I saw a cop with that is pull out my phone and start filming him back.

I don't know what this person's motives are, but these stunts have provoked thought and discussion about what's happening to us all and where this "surveillance society" is headed.

Actually seeing the individual filming us can be frightening. It makes us want to know who is filming us and why. It arouses suspicion and concern.

The unobtrusive cameras are not just to catch the bad guys, but to allow us to move around our lives without being startled by the fact that someone somewhere is watching us.

What if your phone could detect the lens of nearby cameras (because those cameras are detecting you), and flood it with directed light to render it useless?

In every movie and show I have seen, surveillance cameras have always been a joke to bypass. What is the actual state of anti-camera technology right now? Duct tape? Laser pointer? Ski mask?

What consumer grade cloaking technology is on the horizon?

__The Five Stages of Coping With Surveillance__

1. Denial: This man isn't going to constantly video tape me for an uncomfortable amount of time.

2. Anger: I can't believe this man is constantly video taping me for an uncomfortable amount of time!

3. Bargaining: Maybe this man can be reasonable?

4. Depression: There is no reasoning with this man.

5. Acceptance: Constant surveillance is good for me. If I am uncomfortable, it is because I have something to hide.

Here's my $0.02.

Firstly, with regards to his actions outside of private properties, how are his actions any different to say, a journalist stood with a camera with a long range lense taking pictures from the highway to the office? The invasion of privacy is still clear, the only real difference is the knowledge of the situation.

After having security cameras follow around our every move (I live in the most widely covered town in England) we have become numb to it, it has just become a part of every day life to expect to be stalked by the police and other entities. I believe the uncomfortable feelings these people experienced were due mainly to the fact that he was also though, but that alone would not make them uncomfortable, if say, for instance he was stood in the street taking a video of nothing in particular, say, the other side of the road, people would happily walk by him with little or no discomfort.

The point where he started "invading privacy"[1] by following people round is where they began to feel uneasy, being followed by a camera man is unnatural, but I beg the question, how is this any different to paparazzi? How is this any less legal, say, they the topless photos of Kate Middleton, following Lady Gaga in to a hotel to get some exclusive shots or taking a photo of Madeleine McCann's parents while they are in their home?

The legality of this is in question by a few of the posters, but I feel this is totally wrong, it should not be the legality of whether or not to record audio, or whether the video can persistently track you, it should be a question of free speech versus privacy.

On the one hand you have an annoying man who isn't doing any genuine harm, on the other hand you have a person who clearly believes their privacy is being infringed, the question is, to whom do the majority of the rights fall.

I'm no expert on American laws, but from what I know, freedom of speech is protected by the first amendment, and you could argue that if he is trying to change peoples views and mentality with this video, it is in fact a form of speech and should be afforded the same rights, though a general exclusion is invasion of privacy, according to the Wikipedia page regarding the first [2], but if so, why is a security camera not an invasion of privacy?

I would be willing to bet a significant portion of this months wages that even if he followed suit with the security cameras and removed the sound from his recording, almost every person would still have felt uncomfortable, especially in the UK, where legally, unless you are suspected of having committed an illegal activity, a hand operated security camera can not track you for more than 5 seconds. [3]

[1] - If indeed, the right to not be on video while in public should be regardless as privacy, can you truly have privacy while in public?

[2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time,_Inc._v._Hill

[3] - This number was given to me by an operator of the Blackburn with Darwen CCTV unit several years ago when I took part in a visit for high school and as such I have no proof, so take this point as opinion.

The second security guard is where the insight comes from: "I feel threatened". What made all of the people in the video uncomfortable was not their privacy being violated, but that an unknown person was taking lengthy close-up interest in them. He would have had the same effect, though probably to a lesser degree, if he'd just stood there staring at people.

It's an interesting experiment in social norms, but it's not particularly ethical.

I think you make a pretty good point. This experiment is meant to be about privacy, but there's a good chance that the subject are actually reacting to him moving into their personal space and refusing to leave.

it's probably a combination of the two that makes it so unpleasant for the "victims". If he was there without a camera this would be immediately seen as aggressive behaviour. If he was filming them from a distance, they'd either not notice or probably not really care, he'd come across as a non threatening weirdo. But by getting up close with a camera, the unfortunate subject simply doesn't know how to react, the weird middle ground is deeply unsettling.

> On the one hand you have an annoying man who isn't doing any genuine harm

The subjects don't know this. Because his behaviour is so unusual, and because he does so little to explain it, it raises questions about his sanity and future intent.

If I get in an elevator with you and start staring at you, I may not be doing anything illegal, but you would be foolish to wait until I actually do you harm before securing yourself.

If this camera man acted like a real surveillance camera and held the camera in one position vs. panning it to follow their movement, nobody would care. Nor should they.

I think he would get similar reactions even without a camera. Imagine a stranger just sitting at your table or standing there staring at you.

What I find intriguing is that apparently, in this age of ubiquitous camera-phones, no-one pulled out their phone and started filming him.

His message is clear. What should we do? Just wait for Skynet to turn on?

My opinion is that this guy is very illustrative of how screwed we are with regard to privacy, yet I'm having trouble deciding which side to be on, since I can't have it both ways.

If we could, for arguments sake, ignore the issue of different states having different laws on the audio aspect of recording. I believe the audio law I am referring to was designed to protect the public from being secretly recorded on the telephone. Unfortunately, it has been misappropriated with regards to changes in technology.

It is my understanding that you have the right to photograph/video ( again, gloss over audio issues for a moment ) anything you desire as long as you are on public property. You can even peer into private areas while being located on public property. This all comes down to what is referred to as a "reasonable expectation of privacy". Someone has already linked to explanations if these laws.

It's the very premise that allows the paparazzi to exist and be profitable at what they do. That and despite what the famous may say, it's a relationship that need exist or they would not be famous. If you are sitting inside an all glass Apple store and someone films you from outside, you had no expectation of privacy before you walked in, every passerby is seeing you with their own eyes just not recording it permanently.

I'm actually in support of this. I believe it's part of freedom of speech to be able to record or photograph things while in public.

Yet oddly, I'm very much against the rise in CCTV in every store I go into. I think perhaps this comes down to one key word for me. "Surveillance". I don't like automated surveillance becoming more and more commonplace. But a photographer or videographer is not performing such an act.

There's also part of me that feels all law enforcement should be recording everything all the time. For their protection as well as the publics.

I think the guy brings up some interesting points, as before thinking about this I was pro public ability to record, even into private spaces, asking as from a public location. But a CCTV is doing the same in many cases. I think most of you understand the internal debate in having with myself.

I think one interesting point is how the majority of people got immediately angry. Some felt they had a right to privacy while in public, for which they are wrong. And others, I believe mostly "security" took it as far as assault and either touched, shoved, or pushed the guy with a few hitting his camera.

He may be more effective if just before he left, he handed them a small flyer that brings to their attention all these issues. It's nice to see people have an opinion about something, and they very clearly have strong and loud opinions as these videos show. But they are very quiet as another 100 cameras are installed in their local pumpkin patch.

If LEO themselves record everything all the time, the cameraman will just pan or zoom away from police abuse, and if not, records will just disappear. They have no incentive to present an accurate picture and plenty of incentive not to do so, esprit de corps etc.

I was hoping they continue in the tradition they are now, which has both saved them and gotten them in trouble in the past.

Currently they use dash mounted cameras with mics and they can't turn them off on some models. I was hoping they would have something like a helmet mounted GoPro or best mounted one. Yes, it won't see everything, but since they call 50 officers to a car ticket, someone will capture it.

Loss of tape should come with fines. Leo should be held to the highest of standards. No off duty for mistakes, you are fired.

The other case I heard where it helped them was some spoiled brats were drunk in public and called in a attempted rape charge. Tapes probed otherwise and had the girls talking about making the false claim in tape. They got busted pretty hard from what I recall.

What would I say if this guy came up to me and sat at my table as I was talking?

I'd say "hey, what are you doing?"

"I'm just taking a video"

"Ok, well can you go take a video from over there?"


He would move to another table, keep taking a video of me.

Then I would continue eating.

I am guessing movie stars have to deal with paparazzi all the time.

What if I was on some phonecall or saying something private?

Then I'd say "well can you go take a video of someone else?"

"I'm just taking a video man."

"Yeah, but you want to hear everything we're saying?"

"No, I'm just taking a video"

"And I'm just trying to have a private conversation."

"I'm just taking a video man"

(I tell the person on the phone -- hold on a sec brb, and put phone on mute)

"What are you going to do with that video?"

"Nothing, just taking a video"

"Are you trying out that camera?"

"No, just taking a video"

"So how long are you going to be taking that video?"

"You seem confused"

"Do what you want" -- and I would move somewhere else, he would follow me

"Why are you following me?"

"I'm just taking a video man"

"Okay but why are you following me?"

"I'm just taking a video."

"Of me?"

"No, just in general."

"But you're following me."

"Well, I--"

"Um, yeah. I think you've proved your point. Can you try it with someone else now?"

"I'm just taking --"

"Yeah, I know, a video."


"I guess I must be famous. You're not going to stop?"

"I'm just taking a video."

(I turn to someone who works at the store -- "This guy keeps following me with the camera")

They turn to the guy: "Sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to stop filming"

"I'm just taking a video"

"Well you can take a video outside."

"But I'm just taking a video..."

"Sir, please leave now."

(they escort him out)

(I resume the conversation and have a good laugh at what just happened, still not sure what the guy's point was.)

"What are you doing?"

"Oh, just writing a transcription of the video"

"But we don't need a transcription of the video. How about an insightful comment?"

"It's OK. I'm just writing a transcription."

It's not a transcription of the video!

The camera is not what bugs these people, it is him. If it were a cute little kid or a super model - or just somebody with a much better attitude - there would have been a much different response.

Would you say that standard surveillance cameras have a good or bad attitude?

Neither. Surveillance cameras don't interrupt classrooms. Surveillance cameras don't distract musical performers. Surveillance cameras don't walk on to private property after being told to leave.

Hes an asshole who happens to be carrying a camera. And then when people get irritated, he makes it out as if the camera is the primary cause.

Regardless of his behavior, the point he's making is totally valid. You can no longer claim that "I'm doing nothing wrong, therefore I don't mind being recorded on security cameras wherever I go" - if you saw the sheer extent of footage collected of you and the data that can be extrapolated from that footage, you would be horrified.

>Surveillance cameras don't distract musical performers.

(Street) musical performers distract me though.

I'm not a fan of surveillance cameras but I think they are different because they are passive.

People don't feel threatened by surveillance cameras because they think no one is watching that video 24/7 and it is used if something goes wrong or needs investigation.

Where as some random guy suddenly walking in with a camera makes them think that person must have some immediate and possibly malicious intention.

Fixed surveillance cameras might seem passive, but they really are typically more intrusive than this guy's project. That's what makes it so interesting to me. I totally understand how it'd be creepy to have someone physically walking around recording me, but in reality, a campus-wide set of "passive" surveillance cameras (say, at my workplace) will gather far more information about me than this guy could ever hope to record on his own.

Yeah I agree and with improvements in the technology it will get even worse. Cameras can already have pretty decent microphones and speech-to-text technology is pretty damn good so I wont be surprised if soon they start recording sound and analysing it in realtime. It wont cost all that much compared to a lot of other things.

However I was only trying to explain the behaviour of the people.

I think your assessment is right. Furthermore, I believe the intent of the video is to get people to question why these perceptions exist.

Yeah, I think the point could have been made without the jerkiness, though the jerkiness does make the expression of the point somewhat "unique". Three ways to get a better response: wear a sign that says 'security camera', have a display showing the surrounding circle of your GPS location on google street view, and give answers to "what are you doing?".

I think you might be right. Even minus the camera, if he was just staring the reaction probably would've been similar.

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