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Surveillance Art

Wired has some great reporting, and this story is no different.

On July 3rd, I installed this exhibition app on all the free computers at the 14th Street Apple Store. […] When the slideshow first opened, it would capture an image of whoever was standing in front of the computer, and show them first before fading into the previously captured photos.

It’s the backstory behind the “People Staring at Computers” art exhibit.  This guy wrote a program which used a MacBook’s webcam to detect faces, then capture a photo and send it to his server.  He installed it at a few Apple stores and let it run for a few days.  Many people think the result is pretty cool (and I agree), but Apple and the Secret Service didn’t.

“I’m not really a computer security person, so I don’t understand how that law applies here. Did Apple just call you up and say ‘we want you to check this guy out’?”

“Something like that.”

“Can anyone do that? Can I call you up?”

The agent who had been taking notes chimed in: “I suppose so, if you just open up the Yellow Pages we’re right there, on the inside cover.”

They busted him!  Despite this temporary pain, the guy has a hell of a story now, and it all turned out well in the end.  It seems like the Secret Service folks were very reasonable too, and that’s pretty awesome.  Here’s a video demoing Kyle’s work.