Apple Enlists Secret Service to Investigate Webcam Scheme - The UpStream

Apple Enlists Secret Service to Investigate Webcam Scheme

posted Sunday Jul 10, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Apple Enlists Secret Service to Investigate Webcam Scheme

I think the idea of capturing images of people staring blankly at computers while trying to decide if they want to purchase one is pretty awesome. It's even better if they are the stares of the latte-sipping Mac buyers. This is such a good (in this instance, good can also be synonymous with strange or demented) idea that Kyle McDonald seems to agree. He started a project called People Staring At Computers, a Tumblr site that posted images of people...staring at computers.

Apple isn't thrilled about this idea and the Secret Service are involved. How? We discuss after the break.

How did he do this? McDonald installed a custom program on Macs inside an Apple store in NYC, programming them to automatically take a picture with the laptop's webcam. It would then upload the images to the Tumblr account if a face was in the shot. He does say he received permission from a security guard to take photos in the store. I guess they never talked about ways and means in that discussion.

What makes it better was that at random times he would display these images full-screen on the computers inside the store. While some were confused and others found it to be funny and/or weird, most users would just hit the escape key.

As it would turn out, Apple isn't too happy about this, and they have enlisted the help of the Secret Service's electronic crime division to go after McDonald. Operating under US Code Title 18/1030, "Fraud and related activity in connection with computers", McDonald reported on his Twitter that the Secret Service "just stopped by to investigate (web address removed) and took my laptop." He then said to "Please assume they're reading any e-mails you send me."

The good news here is that the site is still up, so check it out before you miss out on the fun. It's pretty amusing. At the time this article was written, no arrests have been made and both Apple and McDOnald have declined to comment.

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