Spy Cam Artist Gets Secret Service Visit

Candid shots of shoppers staring at computers in an Apple Store produces a curious gallery.

If you recently visited a New York City Apple Store, you may have unwittingly participated in an art project that earned its creator a visit from the U.S. Secret Service.

Over three days in June, Brooklyn-based artist Kyle McDonald installed a program on Macs in two different New York Apple Stores and took 1000 candid shots of people staring at computers. Unfortunately for McDonald, his work also caught the attention of the Secret Service's Electronic Crimes Task Force, according to Mashable.

"@secretservice just stopped by to investigate peoplestaringatcomputers.tumblr.com and took my laptop. please assume they're reading any emails you send me," McDonald said via Twitter Thursday.

The Secret Service ended up confiscating two of McDonald's computers, an iPod, and other digital storage devices. It's not clear how the Secret Service got involved. Mashable's report suggests Apple was tipped off to the art project after a computer technician traced back to McDonald the Apple Store's large volume of web traffic from all the candid snaps. McDonald has not been arrested or charged for his actions, at least so far.

Surprise! You're on Candid MacBook!

Stealth photos of people using a computer sounds like an interesting experiment and you can see the project on his Tumblr blog, aptly name People Staring at Computers. This was also a labor of love, apparently, since McDonald had to reinstall his camera program on about 100 computers each day -- Apple wipes its store computers daily. The artist said he got permission from the Apple Store's security guards to install his program.

McDonald also staged an exhibition of sorts where Apple Store patrons would be casually using an Apple Store device only to see an image of themselves appear on the screen. McDonald was hoping to provoke people to think about how we look at computers and how our computers "see" us.

"I thought maybe we could see ourselves doing this we would think more about our computers and how we're using them," McDonald told Mashable. But McDonald discovered that most people just got rid of their candid snapshot and moved on.

How do you stare at your computer?

People Staring At Computers:

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Tags firewallsAppleconsumer electronicssecuritytwitterprivacyCamerasdigital camerasnetwork security

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