Surveillance Camera Man Points Camera at Strangers Without Permission

Well, this can’t be good for photographers’ rights: An anonymous man over in Seattle, Washington is causing a stir in his area and on the web by walking up to random people in various locations — both public and private — and sticking a camera in their faces to film them. When asked to explain his actions, he simply responds in vague statements such as “It’s OK, I’m just recording video.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that the guy is making the point that similar intrusions of privacy by CCTV cameras slip by without any negative reaction from most people:

In most cases, people become agitated and tell him to stop. That’s when the cameraman makes his point: Cameras are everywhere already. This one just happens to be held by a person instead of mounted on a wall or traffic light.

The results are what you’d expect: extremely angry people, 911 calls, and encounters that seem to be one moment away from turning into a physical altercation. Here’s another of his videos, posted to YouTube under the username ScoperMedia (warning: there’s a lot of strong language in this one):

Technology blogger Brian Hall writes that what the man is doing may simply be a taste of the “upcoming brave new intrusive world,” in which people wearing cameras like Google Glass and Memoto will be able to photograph or film you simply by pointing their body in your direction.

(via GeekWire via Boing Boing)

  • zuk

    What a douche.

    Totally agree with the comment about the camera being irrelevant. Sitting down at someone else’s table at a cafe when they’re on the phone (!), or sticking your head in someone’s car door and staring (!). He deliberately steers conversations in a direction intended to antagonise. Telling upset people that ‘it’s fine’ and answering pointed questions with ‘Oh’ are great ways to piss people off, never mind about any cameras you’ve got. The teacher in the yellow shirt is a great illustration of this: when he acts to end the encounter politely, the cameraman gets obviously desperate in his attempt to draw things out and get an emotional response by accusing him, ‘You look confused’, when the guy is clearly not confused.

    This is an experiment that illustrates nothing about cameras but a lot about how public spaces are NOT some kind of behavioural blank canvas, but in fact environments full of unspoken norms, rules, and rituals. That’s a good thing in many ways, and breaking those norms for no good reason counts as douchieness.

    Seeing it this way explains why the camera doesn’t seem so bad in the case of the woman being arrested. It’s because in this situation the public behavioural norms are already being broken: it is normally not expected or ok that people are forcibly carried away against their will.

  • zuk

    There are two kinds of emotional reaction being conflated here. The first is an objection to being surveilled. The second is an objection to people being assholes in our faces (you can’t deny the cameraman is being one: interrupting people’s phone conversations, classrooms, and private cars; refusing to answer questions?). The reason these videos are compelling is the second one, not the first.

    I dislike assholes more than surveillance cameras. But that could change, and I’m aware it depends on the context. I’m thinking of the last episode of The Shield.

  • Justin Megawarne

    Bruce Gilden is just as bold as this guy. But the cowards with their “social norms” won’t attack him, because he’s affiliated with Magnum. Why aren’t you people whinging about the actual illegal violence levelled at this guy?

    Typical double standards from the photographers’ peanut gallery. If you don’t like people seeing or recording you in public, do us a favour and stay at home.

  • Justin Megawarne

    Then you would be the only criminal in that scenario.

  • Justin Megawarne

    Yes, because punching someone in the face is much more respectful of your precious “personal space” than someone taking a video. I hope, one day, someone films you doing that.

  • Justin Megawarne

    Have you ever met the typical male CCTV operator? What sort of thing do you think they are zooming in on when they can get away with it?

  • Justin Megawarne

    Um, if you’re prepared to flaunt your pornography in public, or to cheat openly, you can be prepared to have someone randomly film you in public.

  • Justin Megawarne

    Then YOU would rightly be the one getting arrested, and may they put you away for a decent amount of time.

  • Joe

    in fairness, there’s a difference between looking with your eyes, versus making a digital, potentially permanent record of your behavior. It’s inaccurate to suggest that there is no difference, or that the camera is just a MacGuffin. I can stare at you all day if I want, but I can’t upload my memories to YouTube. Not yet, anyways.

  • Jason maw

    How will u all feeling when hundreds or thousands of people r walking with google glasses on.?

  • Jerry St John Wyatt

    The questions you are asking are the result of the exercise he performed. I find this video very interesting on many levels.

  • Jerry St John Wyatt

    Google is already working on that….

  • PBird

    The guy filming is beyond lame. Why would you bother people the way he does. Safe to say he has no girlfriend. I would be embarrassed to know him. Will probably have to pay for any sort of company in the future (perhaps even his own family.) Just seems like a totally cocky idiot. If someone interrupted my day the way he does to this people he I would think the worst of him. He may have been the product of bullying in school. If this is what kids that are bullied turn out like. Let’s put an end to making fun of anyone in that case.