A UK photographer who goes by the moniker Hamstify was documenting his town Scunthorpe late last year when he was confronted by security personel outside a Golden Wonder plant and ordered to stop photographing. He was shooting from a public location, so he decided to stand up for his rights and film the argument that transpired. On VisitScunthorpe.com, he writes,
What also aggrieves me is that someone in a uniform representing a company in an apparent position of authority can try and intimidate members of the public by making up laws that don’t exist. This seemed to be an attempt to subjugate a member of the public into accepting what was being told was to be true. Further more hurling offensive insults and puerile slander, like seen at the end of the video, surely isn’t something that someone in that position should resort to.
In general, for UK residents, photography from public places is perfectly legal. There are some exceptions (e.g. buildings critical to national security), but the general rule of thumb is that if you’re shooting from public property police and security guards don’t have the power to stop you.
A recently discovered flaw in Facebook’s abuse reporting tool allowed anyone to access private photographs of other users, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Until it was fixed today, the reporting tool allowed anyone who reported a public photograph’s owner to also peruse that user’s images, both public and private. After members of a bodybuilding forum discovered the security hole, they proceeded to target Zuckerberg’s account and publish a number of his private photographs online. This comes a week after the FTC slapped Facebook’s wrist over deceptive privacy practices.
Here’s another public service announcement for those of you who travel often (see our warning on zippered bags): the safes in hotel rooms may not be as secure as you think. YouTube user skyrangerpro recently discovered that the safe in his room could be opened with “000000″ regardless of what passcode he chose. This is presumably the “master password” the hotel uses when you’ve forgotten the one you’ve chosen, but the fact that some hotels leave this on factory default settings is cause for concern.
The next time you think about leaving some pricey camera gear in a hotel safe, makes sure all zeros isn’t a working passcode.
Flickr introduced a novel privacy feature yesterday called “geofences”, which lets you hide the location data of photos taken in certain locations from the general public. It seems like a great idea, but blogger Thomas Hawk points out that there’s a pretty big loophole in the system:
Although the geotag information is indeed pulled from the flickr photo page, ANYONE can potentially still get your geolocational data simply by downloading the original sized file and looking into the EXIF data.
This means the geofence feature doesn’t actually wipe the geotag information from the photos you upload, but simply prevents the data from being displayed in an easy-to-view format on the Flickr site. If you make the original versions of your photos available for download, the general public can still access the location data found in those. To close the loophole, simply make it so people can’t download your originals.
Flickr introduced an innovative location-based privacy feature today called “geofences“. It’s a way of assigning default privacy settings to certain locations for geotagged photographs. For example, you can assign a geofence with a certain radius around your home, and automatically set those photos’ location data to only be visible to your friends and family. Each user can have up to 10 geofences, and existing photographs are automatically updated to new geofence privacy settings.
This comment posted (and deleted) by Reddit user WonkoTheLucid shows why photographers need to make sure their websites are secured properly:
My friends wedding photos were posted with watermarks on a photo reprint site for sale. The prices were a bit outrageous. Another friend who does web design clued me into manually entering the photo address to display a full resolution photo without a watermark. I wrote a script and downloaded 500 free high res photos. Burnt many dvd copies and mailed them to a bunch of random people who were at the wedding.
If you’re a professional photographer that lets clients review proofs online, make sure the high-res, non-watermarked versions of the photos aren’t accessible by simply changing a portion of the URL.
Facial recognition features are appearing in everything from cameras to photo-sharing sites, but have you thought about the different security and privacy concerns it introduces? Fast Company has published a piece on how mobile apps in the future may be able to quickly look up your identity, your personal information, and perhaps even your social security number!
[CMU researchers] used three relatively simple technologies to create their face recognition system: An off-the-shelf face recognizer, cloud computing processing, and personal data available through the public feed at social networking sites such as Facebook [...] Combining the data gathered from the face recognizer hardware with clever search algorithms that were processed on a cloud-computing platform, the team has performed three powerful experiments: They were able to “unmask” people on a popular dating site where it’s common to protect real identities using pseudonyms, and they ID’d students walking in public on campus by grabbing their profile photos from Facebook.
Most impressively the research algorithm tried to predict personal interests and even to deduce the social security number of CMU students based solely on an image of their face–by interrogating deeper into information that’s freely available online.
On June 21, 2011, non-profit organization Shoot Experience sent out six photographers to various parts of London to see the current state of photographers’ rights.
Some used tripods, some went hand held, one set up a 5 x 4.
All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. The event aimed to test the policing of public and private space by private security firms and their reaction to photographers.
The result? Every one of the photographers was confronted at least once, and in three cases the police were called.
Last week a United Airlines flight out of Denver International Airport was returned to the gate after being ready for takeoff when a passenger noticed “suspicious behavior” and notified a flight attendant. The plane was evacuated and swept for suspicious devices, the suspicious passengers were taken and questioned, and the flight was delayed by 2.5 hours. Now it’s believed that the passengers were simply taking pictures during taxiing, though the fact that two of the picture takers were of Middle Eastern descent likely had something to do with the “suspiciousness”.