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)

  • dsv4600

    What this man is doing is a LITTLE more intrusive than a security or surveillance camera. There’s a difference when some idiot is shoving a camera in your face. He’s on the level of what celebrities go through with paparazzi’s.

  • Mansgame

    this man is going to ruin it for other photographers. I don’t care if he has a right to do what he does. Public relations is a serious matter.

  • jas

    Hellow people, this is the world we have voted for, Hellow

  • Martin Hurford

    People in the UK are surveilled by CCTV almost everywhere (more CCTV than any other place in the world I believe) and no one has a problem with it but I bet they would with this guy! One has to think there is a better way to provoke discussion on an issue than by alienating the very people you’d like to support your cause i.e. the man/woman on the street.

  • derekdj

    What an idiot! Just sounds like someone looking for attention, he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between CCTV for public safety and being a ponce intruding on others.

  • Daniel Austin Hoherd

    This is very interesting. It seems that he is crossing the line, but where is that line?

  • rtfe

    interesting. not sure whether to cringe or laugh, but either way it is difficult to look away and x out of the video. the second video is remarkable since at one point he films a female citizen being arrested and is harassed by the authorities. this has become a cliched important topic concerning photographer’s rights and so on. is it possible to have one with out the other? can we expect full amnesty when we go out and film due to “rights” but get angry when an idiot shoves one in our own face? it is easier to hate one man than a plethora of unseen cameras filming our movement.

  • DamianMonsivais

    Great experiment. Just because they hide the cameras doesn’t mean your not being recorded. But put it in there face and all hell breaks loose.

    eating your hamburger without wanting to know how it got to your plate.

  • Bobby

    Honestly this doesn’t bother me at all. I think people need to understand that its completely legal to film and photograph in public. Its going to take big money lawsuits and media attention for the public to wake up and smell the roses.

  • Keith D

    Just because you have the right to do something does not mean you should do it.

  • Siobhan

    It’s nothing new, Bruce Gilden has been doing it for years.

  • Ken

    Every conversation I’ve seen where this is posted has missed one very important point, generally it’s because that point is obscured by the original author’s intent. He’s trying to make a point that cameras are everywhere. However, he could have either the exact, or very similar, reaction in each of those situations even if he didn’t have a camera.

    Imagine some random stranger walking up to you while you’re sitting in your car and simply stares at you. You ask what he wants and he simply says that what he’s doing is legal. It is. It’s also invading one’s private space. How about if he sits at your table and simply stares at you. Walks up to the window where you’re eating, invades your classroom, intrudes on your conversation. How would you act?

    The only scenario I’ve seen in which the camera makes any real difference in the arrest video. In the rest of the shots the camera is simply a MacGuffin.

    The author fancies himself some sort of activist or innovator. In reality, he’s simply an ass.

  • Lukas Prochazka

    Hellow is spell Hello …just sayin’

  • Lukas Prochazka

    Yes, thats big true though people are not afraid of cameras but the people who make and what for they will use it even though it doesnt mean when its simple camera without person it cant be use for something….anyways its good project, I just wouldnt be courageous

  • Lukas Prochazka

    why? I mena i know it bed for relationship. but why? why do you care only if with camera is person the simple cameras everywhere are still operated with people and they will not stopping video though you will tell the camera

  • Thomas Hawk

    It’s interesting art, but someone’s going to physically assault him at some point.

  • John Kantor

    Just shows how stupid people are to think they have any right to “privacy” in a public place.

  • max

    This is stronger statement then tens of thousands protesting in the street.

  • David Dvir

    Legal or not his actions are invasive and inappropriate. Other cameras may be recording you in public but in general it’s for a good reason. Public safety. This man does not declare or present himself to be a representative of any security platform and so his recording of private content can be thought of as harassment. I don’t think any court would support him if he attempted to sue someone for smashing his camera on the ground. I think that’s probably what I would end up doing after politely requesting he respect my personal space.

  • Anonymous

    It’s “spelled” not not just spell. Bad grammar. sayin’ is spelled saying. Fyi

  • Saad Ansari

    Interesting experiment but you can’t blame these people for reacting uncomfortably. Cameras in grocery stores are for a specific purpose and people are aware of what that purpose is, theft prevention and public safety. When you have a guy pointing a camera in somebody’s face that person becomes the main subject without provocation, and one does not know what that camera man will use the video for. Maybe he’ll edit some offensive or embarrassing audio/video clips to change the context of the video into some sort of edited piece that the person never agreed to be in. In this particular video I don’t see any particular manipulation, everything just looks basically as it happened. But the camera man is not even telling them what he’s recording for, all he’s saying is “It’s just a video”. That just makes things even more shady and suspicious, if he simply said “I’m making a video on how people react when they are recorded randomly” I think a few of those people might react differently, but when it’s just random prolonged recording without any context it just seems like it’s in bad taste/harassment. I’m not saying the guy who made this video is completely wrong, I think this is a fantastic insight into recording in public, I’m just trying to put some perspective in that it’s not simply people feeling entitled to privacy in public spaces.

  • Oskar?

    “Imagine some random stranger walking up to you while you’re sitting in
    your car and simply stares at you. You ask what he wants and he simply
    says that what he’s doing is legal.” It is very comic and I can’t stop laughing. What are you doing? I am doing legal…. LOL

  • Oskar?

    Invasive? What do you mean by that? The man is in public space, not in a toillet, not in a bedroom, not in a house.

  • Oskar?

    “one does not know what that camera man will use the video for”
    The main point is that THE USE OF is restricted but not the recording of the video.

  • guest

    This is why people hate street photographers.

    For all the decent ones, you have just as many people like this guy, the guy who fired flashes at people while driving, and all those hipsters who obnoxiously pester the homeless for close-ups of their grizzled faces.

  • guest

    you really can’t grasp the concept of ‘invasive’?

    “random locations, public and private”

  • guest

    really? you don’t understand the distinction?

    cameras in the supermarket = for safety, for general record, not pointed specifically at ME. good to have, don’t particularly care

    him = random-ass sticking a personal recording device in your face and saying ‘naw bra, it’s totes legal, what’s the diff between me and the security cam?’

  • Domenico

    You could also argue the same point if you took away the person and just had a camera following people up front, be it remotely controlled or automated. The creepiness comes from the fact it’s clear the camera is focusing on you. To call him an “ass” is a little harsh; by personifying camera surveillance he’s highlighting the interesting attitudes we have to being monitored. We’re OK when the surveillance is ‘out of sight’ (lookup “the panopticon”) but for most when it’s in their face, there’s a problem.

  • Keiran Blackwell

    Intrusive? It’s a public place, there is no expectation of privacy in public. If I walk down the road and scratch my bottom I don’t suddenly demand that all around me divert their eyes.

    This would be an entirely different story if it was private land or a home.

  • Keiran Blackwell

    “Saying” is spelled saying. “Sayin'” is spelled “sayin'”; perfectly valid form of spelling with correct use of an apostrophe.

  • Ivan

    Interesting, although a bit crude experiment. But one thing that I am not sure about is how this whole experiment is *specific* to video or picture taking? I guess if he approached the same subjects with a voice recorder to record their conversations, a paper notebook writing down what they are saying, or a sketchbook and pencil to draw their faces, it would provoke *exactly* the same reactions.

    Camera out of the loop, what all this is about then? I am sure it’s more for psychologists and sociologists to think about, not something photographers should be concerned about.

  • Ivan

    Interesting, although a bit crude experiment. But one thing that I am not sure about is how this whole experiment is *specific* to video or picture taking? I guess if he approached the same subjects with a voice recorder to record their conversations, a paper notebook writing down what they are saying, or a sketchbook and pencil to draw their faces, it would provoke *exactly* the same reactions.

    Camera out of the loop, what all this is about then? I am sure it’s more for psychologists and sociologists to think about, not something photographers should be concerned about.

  • Hannes

    Wow. Very strong videos. This first moment of silence when they notice that they’re being taken on video and that they don’t understand the situation. Really interesting project. Frightening at the same time. How violent the camera is and how peaceful at the same time. If I’d see this at any film festival I’d say its art and not just a strange youtube experiment.

  • Mac

    He’s right; he’s actions are legal. Let him do that to me and answers back to me saying is legal! The next action would be my fist in his mouth…

  • Jon

    I’m smart, I use words like apostrophe to make my point seem valid……

  • Ranjoharbri

    The guy’s filming on private property, obviously without permission, the fact that he’s entering class rooms and disturbing a private meeting is enough to have him escorted off the property never mind the fact that he’s filming.
    He’s done absolutely nothing to endear photographers and videographers to the public and has done us all a great dis service.
    The question I’d ask is why did he bother doing this in the first place.
    The laws and legislation on filming in public and on private property are clearly defined.
    I wish people would stop pulling publicity stunts like this.
    It makes folks who have a legitimate reason to photograph the public job much harder and just adds fuel to the fire. He’s an idiot as far as I’m concerned.

  • Ken

    It’s not really about privacy per se, but personal space and decorum.

  • John Mueller

    If he’s in public, yes he’s allowed to point the camera and shoot anything he wants (with the exception of at military bases which I found out the hard way). But on private property it’s a different story. CCTV is used for security not broadcast. AND CCTV is also non-intrusive. No one is holding a camera, interrupting classrooms, etc. It’s out of the way and not bothering anyone, even if it is big brother watching you.

  • Burt

    Don’t want your photo taken. Stay at home.

  • Mirror Mirror

    It is creepy and I don’t blame people for being pissed off. Upon reflection though what it comes down to is people don’t like the reality of government and corporate intrusion that is in their face. In other words “ignorance us bliss.”

    Great artistic project but I’d probably break the damn camera. It’s irrational but so are we.

  • Guillermo Weibchen

    What would be the difference if was a photo camera?

  • paul clarke

    ‘art’? If this is art then so is fingering people. This guy will get his ass kicked so badly one day and I don’t think anyone will care to be honest.

  • paul clarke

    Agreed. He will get punched in the face one day. He deserves it.

  • Sterling

    Lots of things are legal. Butting in line at the grocery store is legal. Talking with your mouth full is legal. Having a loud conversation on your phone in the elevator is legal. It’s not a matter of legality. It’s a matter of manners, rudeness, and respect.

  • Lenoat702

    2:50 Best part

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I think we should blame them, and blame ourselves if we feel that this is an appropriate way to react. First of all, he is a person and there’s no reason to treat him bad just for filming. And calling 911? Are we that paranoid? He is not threatening anyone, he is not cursing, he is simply holding up a camera and taking a video. I think this was a great experiment and kudos to the guy for being so brave. We have cameras everywhere in society, and we’re being watched by someone all the time, camera or not.

    Honestly, if someone did this to me I’d probably react by asking him why he’s filming me and then I’d just leave him be or actually enjoy it. Why? Because I don’t take myself so serious that I can’t have my video taken and I respect anyone’s right to film and photograph me in public space and foremost: I am not afraid of people, with or without a camera.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    It’s an urban myth that this kind of behaviour ruins it for other photographers. You know what ruins it for other photographers? Google “dead girl in Haiti”. But mostly: paranoid governments.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    Interesting and depressing. I think it’s a great experiment and it exposes our fear of not only cameras, but each other. Even if the guy comes off as “creepy”, why do we feel the need to treat “creepy” with such an aggressive manner? Calling 911, physically assaulting ‘it’? Why? In a peaceful country, a democracy, why do we feel the need to resort to violence because of something different?

    And honestly, for those in the comments section saying you’d beat him up or that he is intruding your privacy: why and how? Sure, he points a camera at you for a minuter, maybe five at most, is your life that serious, that important, that you can’t take a five minute break for something “creepy” or “different” to happen? Are you that afraid that a person, who in no way seem violent, just “creepy”, has a camera pointed at you? It sounds more like a symptom of just being too uptight if anything.

    And for those thinking this will ruin photography, no, it won’t. Press photographers storming around a dead girl in Haiti ruins photography, but the worst thing of all: paranoid government talking about “safety” and “anti-terrorism” ruins photography. People photographing and filming people, even in such an “intrusive” manner as in this case, won’t ruin photography. Think about it, Bruce Gilden has been throwing a flash in people’s faces for what? 40 years? And that haven’t stopped photography, not even by an inch.

    Please don’t fall for myths and irrationality.

  • Dave

    This just illustrates how righteousness and idiocy can exist simultaneously in the same space.

  • Dave

    You are pretending that if a stranger came up to you and shoved a rolling camera in your face while you were stuffing your face with a burrito, or surfing porn on the net, or corresponding with the person you were cheating on your SO with, that you would not be very offended. You are simply playing the devils advocate or supertroll. If this fool comes at you from left field, you would react the same. The burrito would fall from your hand…..beans would spill out of your mouth….you would quickly try to switch the webpage you were on, or you would realize that someone just busted you cheating on your girl/boyfriend and that it would soon be circulating on the net….and the gamer would be over. And you wouldn’t be as happy or ‘ok’ with it as you are here.