With the advent of Internet-connectivity and apps in cameraphones and digital cameras, images can now be shared with others in ways never before seen in the history of photography. Unfortunately, not all of the ways are positive. Some are downright creepy.
Take PlaceRaider, for example. It’s a malicious Android app that hijacks your smartphone’s camera, secretly takes photos of your life, and uses those images to reconstruct 3D virtual spaces of private locations.
Facebook has rolled out a new feature that may make privacy-wary Internet users cringe. It’s a link called “seen by” that shows up under photos posted to groups. The link reveals a box that shows exactly who has seen the photographs — timestamps and all.
Ingrid Lunden of Techcrunch writes that UC Santa Barbara professor Ben Zhao first noticed the feature last Friday after sharing a photograph of his daughter to one of his groups.
YouTube just announced a useful new feature: an easy face blur option. The announcement says the feature is aimed for news and human rights agencies to protect privacy and identities especially if posting images of activists who may need to remain anonymous or if minors are present in the videos and privacy is a concern.
Professor and self-proclaimed cyborg Steve Mann created an eye and memory-aid device he calls the EyeTap Digital Glass. The EyeTap, worn by Mann above on the left, is a wearable device that is similar to Google Eye, pictured right, but he’s been making them at home since the 1980s. The goal of his project is to use images to aid memory, or even to augment the memories of people with Alzheimer’s Disease or who simply want to preserve their memories more permanently. However, a recent misunderstanding over Mann’s technology allegedly caused a confrontation between Mann and several employees at a Paris McDonald’s restaurant.
Sebastian Guerrero, an independent researcher in Barcelona says he’s discovered a way to force friendship with any Instagram user — private or public — by exploiting an Instagram server-side vulnerability. In one case, Guerrerro forced Mark Zuckerberg to follow his test account. Then Guerrerro sent him a message through a photo post, which would show up in Zuckerberg’s photo feed of people he follows. Guerrero also used a test account to follow a private user without the required approval from the private user.
Artist Kyle McDonald caused quite a hoopla last year after using a custom-written program to photograph unsuspecting people using Apple Store computers. Apple quickly issued a takedown request and the Secret Service was sent to confiscate McDonald’s gear. Yesterday Wired published an interesting article in which McDonald gives his long and detailed account of the whole fiasco:
I didn’t want to break the law. I was prepared to make people a little uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to do anything illegal. That ruled out using private computers. I tried to think of a busy public space full of computers, and the Apple Store seemed so obvious. I read “The Photographer’s Right” to make sure it was ok to take the photos.
[It] sounded simple. There was definitely no expectation of privacy: the 14th Street Apple Store has glass walls. And I saw people taking pictures inside all the time, so I just had to double check with an employee. It seemed clear that I was legally within my rights, but I wanted to be sensitive to the people being photographed. I decided in advance that I would make sure it was easy to contact me if someone saw their photo and wanted it removed. I would try to keep Apple out of the discussion by always referring to it as a “computer store”, but Apple’s strong aesthetic makes it hard to hide.
When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: ‘People Staring at Computers’ [Wired]
@NeedADebitCard is a new Twitter account that finds and retweets photographs of credit/debit cards that are publicly shared through the service. Apparently many people don’t know that it’s not a good idea to publish photos that allow anyone to see your credit card information. The account’s byline is: “Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people.”
9 out of 10 adults in America believe that people are over-sharing sensitive personal information. One culprit is the GPS-enabled camera, which can reveal exactly where you were at a specific time by baking the information into photos. If you’re uncomfortable with how specific this EXIF data is, Canon has a solution: fuzzy precision. The company has patented a system that may one day allow its camera users to choose “low precision” EXIF data. This means cameras would record rough and non-specific details of when and where an image was made. Instead of 12:31pm, it might record it was 12-1pm, and instead of a particular location, it might provide a general area on a map.
(via Egami via Canon Watch)
Earlier this month the US Army published an article warning its soldiers that the ubiquitousness of geotagged photographs these days can present a serious security risk, citing a real-world example of something that happened back in 2007:
When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.
Officer Kent Grosshans recommends disabling the geotagging feature on your phone (or camera) and double-checking your social media settings to see who you’re sharing location-based info with, regardless of whether you’re an enlisted soldier or a civilian.
Geotagging poses security risks (via John Nack)
The private photographs on your phone might not be as private as you think. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that iOS has a loophole that allows third-party apps who have access to location information to also access (and copy) your entire photo library without any further notification or warning. A couple days later, Android was also found to have a loophole that’s even worse — any app that can access the Internet can copy photos to a remote server! Both companies have acknowledged the privacy flaws and are currently working on fixes for them. Welcome to the scary world of Internet-connected cameras!
(via The Verge via Engadget)
Image credit: iPhone Camera by Nico Kaiser