Some of you may think that this is one of those social media situations that sound rather creepy and is absolutely socially unacceptable. Artist Kyle McDonald created an art project that is clearly a surveillance of the public computers at Apple stores. He collected images to create a series of facial expressions. McDonald called it an insight into our relationship with the computers.
Those who were captured on the computer did not know that McDonald was capturing their expressions. Now, people are wondering if it is illegal. Plus, the Secret Service is now looking into the matter.
McDonald’s project occurred on three days in June. The stores wiped their computers every night, but he’d be back the next day reinstalling his surveillance program each day he took photos. He documented people staring at computers in Apple stores.
Unbeknownst to the computer store, he uploaded a collection of the photos to a Tumblr blog, and last Sunday he set up ‘an exhibition’ at the Apple stores. The secretive event at the Apple stores on West 14th Street and in Soho required people to look at an Apple store computer screen. They’d see a picture of themselves, and then they saw photos of other people staring at computers. During this unauthorized event, no one came forward and complained.
Nevertheless, McDonald got caught when he set up about 100 Apple store computers to connect up to his servers every minute. With all the traffic he created, he learned that Apple monitors traffic in its stores. He received a photo from a Cupertino computer of an Apple technician. The technician traced the traffic to the site McDonald used to upload the program to Apple Store computers. But, the artist never heard from Apple until four Secret Service men arrived at his door step early in the morning with a search warrant for computer fraud. The men in suits confiscated two computers, an iPod and two flash drives, and informed McDonald that Apple would contact him in due time.
According to Tech Dirt, people seem to be resentful and feel McDonald’s actions were criminal. He should be punished. I don’t blame them for feeling that way. The fact that he was sneaking around capturing people’s facial expressions is deceitful. The Apple employee had every right to think what McDonald was doing was a criminal action not an artistic project. I’d call the authorities, too.
Do you think McDonald committed a crime? Do you think he should have his surveillance equipment returned? Would you want to see McDonald’s artistic work?