Voyeur Artist gets visit from Feds over webcam spying

A Brooklyn-based artist has caught the attention of the Secret Service after installing a computer program on Apple Store computers that takes Webcam photos every two minutes, and posting those images on the Internet…

Kyle McDonald took the photos and posted them on a Tumblr blog called “People Staring at Computers.” He told Mashable that he got permission from Apple security guards to take photos in the store, but it’s unclear if they were aware that McDonald also meant installing software and snapping Webcam shots. Given that it attracted Secret Service attention, it’s safe to say that not everyone was excited by the project.

When asked on Twitter if he got permission from every person whose photo appeared on his blog, McDonald said no because “as i understand, photography in open spaces is legal unless explicitly prohibited.” He will, however, remove any photos if asked, he said. Well, duh?

It appears McDonald was committed, however; Apple wipes its computers every night, so he had to reinstall the program every day he took photos, Mashable reports. That program focused only on photos…

McDonald said the warrant he received from the Secret Service said his actions violated 18 USC section 1030. That deals with “fraud and related activity in connection with computers,” and covers, among other things, accessing a computer without authorization…

He took 1,000 photos over three days at computers in New York Apple Stores…

Sounds like a creep to me. Wonder if he considers public restrooms to be public spaces, too?


Sorry, Steve: Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work – May 21, 2001

By Cliff Edwards

For years, Apple Computer CEO Steven P. Jobs has tried working with retailers to make shopping for Apple’s stylish products as appealing as using them–everything from setting up kiosks to special sections adorned with Apple’s Think Different posters. Still, the computer maker’s share has fallen, and Jobs figures he knows why. “Buying a car is no longer the worst purchasing experience. Buying a computer is now No. 1,” he griped at the MacWorld trade show in January.

Now, he’s taking matters into his own hands. On May 19, Apple will open a swanky new retail store–the first of as many 110 nationwide–at Tyson’s Corner Galleria mall outside Washington. While Apple execs won’t comment on their plans, the idea seems clear: Well-trained Apple salespeople in posh Apple stores can convince would-be buyers of the Mac’s unique advantages, including its well-regarded iMovie software for making home videos and its iTunes program for burning custom CDs…

The way Jobs sees it, the stores look to be a sure thing. But even if they attain a measure of success, few outsiders think new stores, no matter how well-conceived, will get Apple back on the hot-growth path. Jobs’s focus on selling just a few consumer Macs has helped boost profits, but it is keeping Apple from exploring potential new markets. And his perfectionist attention to aesthetics has resulted in beautiful but pricey products with limited appeal outside the faithful: Apple’s market share is a measly 2.8%. “Apple’s problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers,” gripes former Chief Financial Officer Joseph Graziano.

Rather than unveil a Velveeta Mac, Jobs thinks he can do a better job than experienced retailers at moving the beluga. Problem is, the numbers don’t add up…Apple would have to sell $12 million a year per store to pay for the space. Gateway does about $8 million annually at each of its Country Stores. Then there’s the cost of construction, hiring experienced staff. “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” says Goldstein…

Maybe it’s time Steve Jobs stopped thinking quite so differently.

An example why – before making a business decision, equity purchase, or maybe just buying a new TV set – you should consider the opinions of several analysts. Not just one.

Apple now has over 320 stores around the world. Cliff Edwards still writes for Bloomberg Businessweek. BTW, Bloomberg is still one of the several sources I always consult about business, not necessarily technology.

Thanks, Charles Jade