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Apple Store Artist Raided By Secret Service 376

An anonymous reader writes "Artist Kyle McDonald wanted to create something that captured people's expressions as they stared at computers. So the 25-year-old artist installed a program on computers in two New York Apple Store locations that would automatically take a photo every minute of whoever was standing in front of the computer. McDonald then uploaded the photos to his Tumblr blog, 'People Staring at Computers,' made a video with the photographs, and set up 'an exhibition' at the Apple stores to show what he had found. Within days, the Secret Service, which investigates computer crimes, had raided McDonald's house, seizing his two laptops, two flash drives and iPod."
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Apple Store Artist Raided By Secret Service

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  • Double standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @07:56AM (#36703558) Homepage

    Where were they when that school in Merion installed spycam software on all the pupil's laptops to record them in their dormrooms?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2011 @08:14AM (#36703636)

    Also an apple store is not a public place, it's private property that's open to the public which is MUCH different than say a park.

  • Idiot artist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lillebo ( 1561251 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @08:31AM (#36703700)
    Lol, just watched the video montage he did of the stunt. Some minutes into the video, after showing a couple of hundred faces, he ponders "Would people look different if I showed them how the computer sees them?" - or in other words "Would people react differently if I showed them I was taking pictures of them?"

    As predicted - most did. Next he says "Most just hit escape".

    Couldn't help but laugh at his naivety. Of course people would hit escape - they don't want their picture taken you twat!
  • Re:Double standards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @08:32AM (#36703702) Homepage

    The issue is that the artist had no right to install software was the installation of some software that was the problem.

    Thanks for clearing that one up. The entire country was certainly at risk and getting the Secret Service involved was definitely the right thing to do. There's no way a local policeman could have reprimanded him.

    PS: I read the article before posting (hey, it's the way I roll!) and it mentions something about him asking permission before doing it.

  • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @09:01AM (#36703828)

    The Supreme Court disagrees with your AC opinion:

    “A privately owned shopping center that attracts large numbers of people to congregate in order to shop and take advantage of other amenities offered by the shopping center is the functional equivalent of the traditional town center, which historically is a public forum where persons can exercise the right to free speech. (Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center (1979) 23 Cal.3d 899, 910-911 & fn. 5 [153 Cal.Rptr. 854, 592 P.2d 341]”

    While the wording here applies to 1st amendment, it clearly states that a place that invites people to come and shop becomes public.

    Every time you hear a story about some shop owner who claims they own the place so you have to follow their rules, you should bait them into discriminating against you somehow then sue them out of business. Responsible business ownership should include the understand that you can't be a tyrant just because you own a business.

  • Sony BMG (Score:3, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @09:29AM (#36703956)
    A better question is, where was the secret service when Sony was caught installing rootkits en masse?
  • Re:Double standards (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2011 @09:38AM (#36703992)

    Who gives a fuck if they "owned" those laptops? It's irrelevant to the discussion.

    The point of all laws is to prevent harm. Granted, most laws nowadays seem to exist to create advantages for some asshats while causing harm for everybody else (like copyright), and so those laws are actually crimes themselves, but you know what I mean.

    Installing the software alone did no harm.
    The harm that was done in both cases, was the massive invasion of privacy.

    And the additional harm that was done in this case, was the secret service* attacking that guy, instead of, you know, the local police doing a normal investigation!

    Conclusion: There are no good guys in this story. There are two sides, and both are bad.

    * Oh well, the merger of secret service and police is always the first indicator for a proto- fascist totalitarian state. So how I see it, this is the equivalent of the first SS [] raids.

  • Re:Double standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qwertyatwork ( 668720 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @10:08AM (#36704128)
    No I didn't read the article before posting. +1 slashdot points. The reason it was the secret service was probably due to jurisdiction. I had my house raided by the secret service in 1988 when I was phreaking calling cards. I had a lawyer tell me the reason it was the secret service was because the calling cards put it in their jurisdiction. I can't remember the exact reason, but something along the lines of calling cards are a promise of pay, or some other legal mumbo jumbo.
  • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrimeNumber ( 136578 ) <> on Saturday July 09, 2011 @10:50AM (#36704388) Homepage

    No you are missing the point. This has huge bearing on the actual problem. The real issue is that corporations & their paid puppets can do whatever they want. The rest of us have to pay taxes, follow the rules, and abide by the law - even if we think we have the I's dotted and T's crossed as this guy did, you still end up standing before the man. That, my cowardly friend, is the "actual problem".

  • 1984 Irony (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clyde_cadiddlehopper ( 1052112 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @11:25AM (#36704646)

    In 1948, George Orwell arrived on the cultural scene with his novel 1984. In it, citizens are watched at every minute and suspicious activity results in search and seizure by secret police.

    In 1984, Apple computer arrived on the cultural scene with their 1984 television ad. In it, the Macintosh computer is introduced as a means to individual expression and freedom from oppression.

    In 2011, Kyle McDonald arrived on the cultural scene with his People Staring at Computers art project. In it, he demonstrates the use of Apple computers to observe citizens every minute. Apple's complaint results in search and seizure by Secret Service.

    The parallels go on and on ... the US is a country in a continuous state of war, school was caught using Apple computer technology to accuse a student observed eating pill-shaped candy in his home of drug use, there are certainly parallels between Bradley Manning's and Winston Smith's incarcerations, state secrets are sacrosanct and facts are routinely rewritten. Happy 1984.

  • by 7-Vodka ( 195504 ) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @04:14PM (#36706980) Journal

    The way I see it he did two things and both of them are perfectly legal:

    1. Use computers that were made available for him to use by the apple stores
    2. take pictures of people in public places

    Taking pictures of people in public places is legal many times over, it's not even worth discussing.
    Using the computers that were put there for public use, is completely legal as well. He did not sign any contract saying what he would or would not do on them, there was no agreement signed that he would not install software on them. They're just offered up for public usage and installing software is such usage.

    I don't see anything legally, ethically or morally wrong with what he did. In fact, I hope he sues the bejeezus out of the thugs who broke into his house and stole his equipment.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling