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Man Creates "Creepy" Stalking App

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the super-secret-admirer dept.

Privacy 142

An anonymous reader writes "Creepy, a package described as a 'geolocation information aggregator,' is turning heads in privacy circles, but should people be worried? Yiannis Kakavas explains why he developed his scary stalking application. Creepy is a software package for Linux or Windows — with a Mac OS X port in the works — that aims to gather public information on a targeted individual via social networking services in order to pinpoint their location. It's remarkably efficient at its job, even in its current early form, and certainly lives up to its name when you see it in use for the first time."

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paranoia ho! (3, Insightful)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675410)

Anyone instantly worried that installing this software in your own machine might also make any data on that machine available for stalking?

It somehow doesnt seem like a good idea to me to trust a programmer proficient at this kind of this without a very very thorough code review first

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675432)

Good point.

I do like the idea however. The average person is stupid beyond belief. It usually takes something like this to shake them up enough to understand the dangers of social network and sharing this much data that is publicly available.

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

evilgoat_bmf (1941186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675456)

"social networks" is used a bit lightly, it only works for twitter and flickr, at least the latest version on the site.

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675520)

And it's hardly creepy to see it in action, doesn't appear to be very effective.

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678112)

Hey, I notice you are at Starbucks, can you pick me up a large darjeeling?

Re:paranoia ho! (5, Informative)

asto21 (1797450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675614)

From the 'creepy' site

Location information retieval from :
Twitter's tweet location
Coordinates when tweet was posted from mobile device
Place (geographical name) derived from users ip when posting on twitter's web interface. Place gets translated into coordinates using geonames.com
Bounding Box derived from users ip when posting on twitter's web interface.The less accurate source , a corner of the bounding box is selected randomly.
Geolocation information accessible through image hosting services API
EXIF tags from the photos posted.
Social networking platforms currently supported :
Twitter
Foursquare (only checkins that are posted to twitter)
Image hosting services currently supported :
flickr - information retrieved from API
twitpic.com - information retrieved from API and photo exif tags
yfrog.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
img.ly - information retrieved from photo exif tags
plixi.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
twitrpix.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
foleext.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
shozu.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
pickhur.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
moby.to - information retrieved from API and photo exif tags
twitsnaps.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags
twitgoo.com - information retrieved from photo exif tags

Reminds me of Caprica. (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677134)

Obviously he's putting this together so he can make AI clones of people.

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678166)

So... just how accurate can that be if it works on geolocation? As it happens I do not use a single one of those services. I have a facebook account so I can find out how my friends are doing (and let them all know about major events in my life, not what I had for breakfast or what thought passed through my brain as I stared idly off into space) and that's it. I guess I'm invisible to this guy, woohoo!

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678244)

The average person is stupid beyond belief.

And apparently arrogant too.

Re:paranoia ho! (4, Informative)

rekenner (849871) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675596)

As opposed to just going "Welp, someone ELSE better look through that code!", I decided to. I'm not going to claim I'm a security or python expert, but I know the latter decently enough to feel safe in saying... ain't nothing there but what it says on the tin.

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676084)

...so you say. ;-p

Re:paranoia ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678216)

Please.
We trust whom we choose. And even then, we still get things like the recent revoked Comodo CA SSL certificates.

Let us NOT go down that long slippery rope toward the fallacy of "trusted certification." It is not like YOU are better qualified to trust. Or even a random independent group of your friends. Or large and better known companies (we have the other problem of "did App writer directly pay for said certification?"

The whole point of open source is that dubious code like this is open to review and is not some black box Win32 package with purposely, um, "incomplete" removal buttons that just let the spying continue long after their official uninstall.

Re:paranoia ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678670)

Well of course he does, that just shows he's paid by The Conspiracy!

Re:paranoia ho! (2)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677126)

I appluad you for the initiative, but people can do very very sneaky stuff in code, so your IANAS/PE pretty much means that if the author was anywhere half competent and wanted to do something Evil(tm) he could probably sneak it past you

Which is part of my problem with the idea that open source means it is automagically safe, i know i wouldnt be able to tell if some hardcore C-lib does something less then savory without spending a disjointed amount of time on the needed code-review. You basically assume someone else has checked to see if there arent any malicious things in there, but for 99% of the people, doing a fully fledged code review is unfeasable.

Not that i think this is an argument against open source, i just think the open == secure argument is hardly true

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678192)

I recommend a higher dosage of Risperdal.

Re:paranoia ho! (3, Informative)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675814)

Anyone instantly worried that installing this software in your own machine might also make any data on that machine available for stalking? It somehow doesnt seem like a good idea to me to trust a programmer proficient at this kind of this without a very very thorough code review first

Knock yourself out. The source code is available from the project page:

  • http://ilektrojohn.github.com/creepy/
  • git clone git://github.com/ilektrojohn/creepy

Re:paranoia ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676112)

"Creepy" is written in Python and when you install it you have all source code :-) ... at least on Linux

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676496)

Well, that or just stick it in a VM. Since running Windows (especially) in a VM I don't care any more about that sort of thing. (Every now and then I just delete it and restore from a cleanish one to be on the safe side.)

Re:paranoia ho! (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676588)

Well, that or just stick it in a VM. Since running Windows (especially) in a VM I don't care any more about that sort of thing. (Every now and then I just delete it and restore from a cleanish one to be on the safe side.)

Then you're not paranoid enough. How do you know creepy isn't sending a packet to a creepy server somewhere, so he can do a reverse geolocate on your IP address? Creepy is already performing that exact function with IP addresses from twitter postings, so you know he certainly could.

And that's the whole point of creepy.

Re:paranoia ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678276)

So... run it in a VM?

Everything is encapsulated in a VM, both in and out. It's been my solution to being able to browse gay porn and not worry about my wife finding it in my browser history, so it should be good enough for running this kind of program.

Binoculars are so much cooler. (2)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675450)

And you can even stalk people who don't use twitter etc.

Re:Binoculars are so much cooler. (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675754)

And you can even stalk people who don't use twitter etc.

Hidden cameras are better still. A nice clock makes a good present .....

Re:Binoculars are so much cooler. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677884)

Hidden cameras are better still. A nice clock makes a good present...

Until a short, bald, slow-witted guy decides to steal it because he "lost" his fur hat [fashionindie.com] in your apartment.

anti creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675470)

now all we need is an anti creepy, that tells us when somebody is using a creepy on us

Re:anti creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676596)

That's why I installed a trace buster buster buster. It'll instantly bust your trace buster buster.

Re:anti creepy (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678318)

No Natalya, now ve Spike dem. Better luck next time, slugheads!

I AM INVINCIBLE!

Twitter and Flickr (2)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675472)

So, the eula's take everything you post on these services (since you agreed to it), make apps to release the info (that you agreed to release) and this guy is a social phenomena for making a program to track what users freely gave up to join the sites in question?

And this is creepy?

Re:Twitter and Flickr (2)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675528)

I think that the idea is that we're supposed to

A) Be horrified by the privacy implications of putting all this personal information on the internet, of our own free will
or
B) Laugh at the people who chose A, and smugly congratulate ourselves for not having done so.

Either way, it generates more pageviews for slashdot.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (3, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675598)

It's also supposed to make people more aware of the kind of information they're giving away. Most people just don't think about that sort of thing. Sharing with friends is fun. They have no idea that they're sharing the exact same data (and even more; who even knows about exif data?) with the entire world. And the world does include some very creepy people.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675682)

Yes, I'll grant you that. However, most people simply don't care. They're apathetic about privacy issues, and I'm apathetic about baby pictures. So, they use social media and I don't. You could make a good argument that they don't understand the scope or consequences of these privacy invasions, but I've given up on trying to change the minds of compulsive sharers. It's like trying to explain to a compulsive hoarder why anyone would ever want to purchase digital media. It's an alien concept, and you're never going to reach them. You might as well stop preaching at them and let them enjoy their deviancy.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (2)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676830)

Sure, they don't care now. The point of Creepy is to maybe put a dent in the apathy. If a proper news source were to pick this up under the banner of "A stalker could be after your kids using this app!", people might start to care.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677082)

Sure, they don't care now. The point of Creepy is to maybe put a dent in the apathy. If a proper news source were to pick this up under the banner of "A stalker could be after your kids using this app!", people might start to care.

Oh please no. Because once that happens, the politicians will get involved. And nothing good can ever come of that.

Re:Most People (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677124)

Privacy situations are in the running for the defining issue of this upcoming decade. Call the previous few years a "warmup" phase.

Apps like this go for the "wait, what?" factor. Say you're my "friend" on Facebook, and you post your address, maybe in a "News from Oak St Dayton Ohio" kind of a feed, etc.

So then someone goes a little over the top and just cruises up on a Saturday with Lasagna and starts setting lunch on your table. Cue shocked outrage. "But you're my friend, and you don't care about me knowing where you are right? And I wanted to meet you for months!"

Put another way, we're getting a weird convergence of TurboSharing vs Terrorist Hysteria, and so far the two are keeping their oil-water boundaries, but the tipping factor is our steady craving for excitement in "reality entertainment" which includes Leak Fever, and then we'll get the perfect storm.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676846)

Alternately, if I post a photo of my location on a public site like Flickr set for the world to see, maybe I (gasp!) don't mind that people know where I took it? Especially since the caption is often similar to, "Look, great tulips at the Dallas Arboretum sunken garden this weekend" anyway?

[T]he world does include some very creepy people

The world also includes some very normal people who either don't mind if other folk know where they are, or are smart enough not to post photos of their activity to Flickr during times when they want a little privacy. Its not an invasion. Its not necessarily that we don't know what information is out there. Its that to many (most?) people, it really, honestly, isn't that big of a deal.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678206)

[T]he world does include some very creepy people

The world also includes some very normal people who either don't mind if other folk know where they are, or are smart enough not to post photos of their activity to Flickr during times when they want a little privacy.

"Usually it works out fine" is not a great counter to "it can go very wrong". I mean, look at nuclear power plants. The fact that most don't melt down doesn't mean that safety is not a concern.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676184)

And this is creepy?

That's what the creator chose to name the program: Creepy. So yes, this IS Creepy, regardless.

Re:Twitter and Flickr (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678242)

There is no claim that this guy is a social phenomena.

He's just a student who used a spare month to throw together a program, just to show people who don't visit slashdot how much data on themselves that they are actually putting out there.

Not creepy at all (2)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675478)

If you publish your whereabouts on public streams of social networks, it is publically available. Even the biggest idiot on the internet will grasp that. Has anyone ever thought about the fact that people who check in to a location on Foursquare, post pictures of themselves at that location on Flickr and mention that location on Twitter might actually want the world to know where they are?

Re:Not creepy at all (2)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675540)

It just stopped working too, I think Twitter blocked it already.

Re:Not creepy at all (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675588)

They want their FRIENDS typically to know where they are (or, for bragging rights, have been); usually not realising the other potential uses of such information, and how much it reveals about them for outsiders. They don't realise it also reveals where they live, where they work, and when they're usually not at home.

Re:Not creepy at all (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676864)

They want their FRIENDS typically to know where they are (or, for bragging rights, have been); usually not realising the other potential uses of such information, and how much it reveals about them for outsiders. They don't realise it also reveals where they live, where they work, and when they're usually not at home.

Let's see. My workplace is fairly easy to find if you know me. My home ownership is public record (on the county tax rolls) and while I might own an investment house and live elsewhere... I don't. Neither do most other people who own only one house. Heck, for most people their current address is in the phone book anyway. Since I have a white collar job I'm generally, but not always, at work during normal business hours.

And all this information comes as a surprise to who, exactly?

Re:Not creepy at all (2)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675604)

Of course, but have those people ever considered that it might not be very smart to let potential burglars know that you'll be skiing in the Alps for a week?

Re:Not creepy at all (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675688)

I wonder if this is a real issue in the real world.

It would mean, after all, that a burglar would be targeting specific individuals, and research that specific location before making their move (and finding out they have proper locks and bolts). I can imagine that happening for specific high-profile targets; not for Joe Sixpack.

Many burglars are opportunists. Targeting houses where they suspect the owners are not at home that day (e.g. by walking by a few times and noticing lights off all evening and no car in the driveway).

Re:Not creepy at all (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676776)

Why walk by when you can check on facebook to be sure?

It wouldn't surprise me if this could be automated. Check who is suddenly submitting photos from hundreds of km away from where they usually submit their photos, and you've got a nice list of potential candidates. If people are away, they can still return at any time. But when you know they're far away, you know you've got time.

Re:Not creepy at all (2)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675950)

> Even the biggest idiot on the internet will grasp that.

No.

> Twitter might actually want the world to know where they are?

The world or their friends?

Re:Not creepy at all (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676146)

I like the idea that it's okay for government and corporations to data mine you and stalk you, but the individual data mining against the individual is "creepy" and evil and blah blah blah.

Re:Not creepy at all (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676990)

Finally, a person who gets it! I mean reall, eh? It's not like some random weirdo is going to stalk you, or show up in the middle of the night to murder you, skin your face, and then jerk off on your corpse. It's corporations who do that kind of stuff!

Re:Not creepy at all (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678272)

What individual stalks you, kills you, skins your face and then jerks off on your corpse?

Do you have their number?

Re:Not creepy at all (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676248)

"Even the biggest idiot on the internet will grasp that."

But usually only after someone cleans out their apartment while they are on a wedding.

anti creepy (1)

barv (1382797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675498)

so we now need an anti creepy to spot stalkers?

Doesn't Work (1)

radicalpi (1407259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675510)

Oh wait, you need a Twitter/Flickr account and need to have given them data about yourself? I guess I'll have to spread some seeds for it and check back later. I'll get right on that...

Re:Doesn't Work (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677088)

Oh wait, you need a Twitter/Flickr account and need to have given them data about yourself? I guess I'll have to spread some seeds for it and check back later. I'll get right on that...

Thank you Captain Obvious!

Is this the new wild west? (3, Insightful)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675516)

1. Rise of APTs (advanced persistent threats) - SecureID breach, Google China etc.
2. Anonymous, Wikileaks and other activists
3. Firesheep, Creepy and other social media privacy exploits
4. Botnets and other advanced commercial malware
5. Stuxnet and other government actors

.

In the 90's and early 00's it was the Frontier, where everyone gave everyone else a hand. Now, we need to start walking around with six shooters.

The amount of data breaches alone are frightening: http://www.privacyrights.org/data-breach#CP [privacyrights.org] , http://www.databreaches.net/ [databreaches.net]

Re:Is this the new wild west? (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676566)

In the 90's and early 00's it was the Frontier, where everyone gave everyone else a hand. Now, we need to start walking around with six shooters.

So, do I get to play Wyatt Earp?

Already Blocked? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675546)

I think Twitter blocked this app already, was working one minute and not the next.

Re:Already Blocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675700)

Nope, just confirmed . Still working . There is no reason for twitter to block it , not violating any TOS. Check the error message you get and see
http://apiwiki.twitter.com/w/page/22554652/HTTP-Response-Codes-and-Errors to know what happened.

Re:Already Blocked? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675798)

Yeah, I noticed that it was just Twitter having issues right after that.

Re:Already Blocked? Dammit how to audit myself? (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675724)

Dammit blocked?
I saw this as a good opportunity to audit myself. There shouldn't be anything out there that i know of.

Re:Already Blocked? Dammit how to audit myself? (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677018)

... which would be a great way to hint to an evil master server that all of your disparate web identities you just checked up on are in fact the same person ;)

Ummmm (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675552)

I don't know that this really does much you can't do fairly easily already. So if you have someone's name and city, there is a good chance you can locate them. Why? All kinds of things in the public record you could look up. Own a house? Then there's a record of that publicly available. Phone numbers are normally listed (though with the increase in cell phones that is less common).

What it comes down to is that in a modern society, we are going back to how it was in older, smaller societies: You can have privacy, but you cannot have anonymity, at least not without a good deal of trouble and sacrifice.

So back in the day, with much smaller communities and so on you had an "everyone knows everyone" situation. Not literally, but people were known to a substantial part of the town. As such it was just not possible to be anonymous. Your comings and goings were noticed. Where you lived was known, that kind of thing. If you moved to a new place, again you've be noticed. Short of going and living a very solitary life, you couldn't be anonymous.

Now privacy you could have, easily. If you wanted a private conversation, just walk out in a field where nobody was within earshot. In your house you had almost complete certainty nobody could spy since there was no advanced technology. What you did you could keep private to a large degree. That you were around doing things you could not.

As things grew anonymity became more and more possible. You could just disappear in a large city, go about your business but be unknown and invisible to most everyone.

Well, that is changing back again. Technology is making it such that anonymity is going away. It is just very difficult to make yourself unknowable. Privacy is certainly possible, and the Supreme Court has ruled it is a right and thus the government is required to respect it. However anonymity is pretty hard.

So that an app can find where you live fairly easily isn't surprising at all to me. There's just a lot of public documents on you, and the Internet makes it easy to search them. The information you choose to provide on social network sites makes it even easier.

It is just kinda something we have to accept, unless we want to radically alter how society works.

Also we need to understand that anonymity and privacy are not the same thing. Too many people conflate the two. They think a right to privacy means the right to be totally unknown. Not the case. It means the right to have the specifics of your life secret, not that you are living your life a secret.

What you do in your house is your private business. That you are in your house it not private. You neighbours can watch you come home and leave, and know when you are there. That is 100% legal and ethical. You will not be anonymous. However they can't go and spy on you and see what you are doing. You can still be private.

Re:Ummmm (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675694)

Yes, I would also like more people to make this distinction. However, I think anonymity is more important than privacy. Either one is enough. With privacy, I can do what I want and noone will know. With anonymity people will know, but it won't matter since they won't know who I am. So the question becomes which one we will be able to rely on in the future. How easy is it for one to have privacy or anonymity?

With email providers and facebook handing out user data left and right, it's easy to know what a person is doing. And while it's not exactly legal to spy on people, spy cameras and wiretaps certainly make it easy.

If I wanted to become anonymous, though, all I would need to do is leave my cellphone at home and only use cash. On the internet, use TOR. If I were to do this, it would be impossible for anyone to identify me, be it legal or not. And that is why I believe in anonymity more than privacy.

Granted, this could only be done occasionaly, and I'm not saying privacy shouldn't be defended. On the contrary, since anonymity is always possible, privacy is what needs defending most.

Re:Ummmm (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678784)

You are forgetting decades worth of spending activity that the government / 3rd party can sift through and find patterns.

They may not be able to use those patterns to directly track you down digitally, but they can begin to figure out how you think when it comes to purchasing, food, supplies, gadgets, etc.

You also are forgetting misdirection... you need to make sure you start preparing your social circle for the fact that you will be out of contact / travelling for a while, as to not raise much suspicion. Anything you can do to start disrupting those patterns will help 10fold down the road.

Re:Ummmm (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676072)

While it's hard to put this into a formal definition, there's a different between random observation in public and systemic surveillance. If you had a person that stayed two steps behind you everywhere you went and noticed everything you put in your grocery basket, took notes at the pub how many beers you were drinking, followed you home and knew where you slept and if you brought anyone with you home, most people would be seriously creeped out even though technically it all happens "in public". I'm not so worried about someone actually doing that, maybe you could if you put a whole team of undercover detectives on me but it's not practical to do on any scale.

With technology though the rules change. It becomes very possible to track everyone, all the time with relatively little manpower. Like the EU data retention directive that requires the location of all cell phone traffic be stored for 6-24 months. For a smart phone that checks for mail etc. in the background that's practically 24x7 surveillance, like we've all been radio tagged. For public transport they're pushing for electronic tickets, for private transport there's electronic toll road readers - it's not impossible to travel anonymously, just very impractical. Unless you want to fly, in which case it is impossible.

Same goes with money, they're fighting harder and harder for everyone to use electronic money. If I pay anyone over 1800$ in cash here in Norway, I can be held as an accessory to their tax fraud. What happens is that they don't wrap in surveillance, it's not some extra papers you fill in to have it logged. It's wrapped in convenience - online banks are so much simpler than the way we did before, oh and we keep a copy of all the records too. Same with cell phones, great invention. Oh and it also doubles as your tracking device. If I locked it around your ancle you'd protest, but if I can make 95%+ use it voluntarily 95%+ of the time, we can go after those "must have something to hide" people.

Re:Ummmm (2)

worf_mo (193770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676422)

I generally agree with you, but I think this part of TFA is interesting:

While the location of an individual tweet might not reveal much, visualising a user's history on a map reveals clusters around their home, their workplace, and the areas they hang out.

This is a bit more than public records about houses and phone numbers - I'd say it is closer to the "everyone knows everyone" situation, where the better part of a town would know what bar you could find John in after work.

I don't find the application creepy, after all it simply aggregates information that is available anyway. I believe that people should be more aware that when using certain services they are sharing a bit more than just their thoughts or pictures. This will be fine for many, but some might prefer to remain a bit less "locatable".

Re:Ummmm (2)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676538)

You distinguish privacy and anonymity, but your definition of anonymity seems flawed. When I run around in a city, my anonymity is still largely maintained: a stranger really has no means to identify my, even the police will have difficulties if I don't volunteer the information (say, by showing them my ID card which are issued to everyone here, but that's beside the point). Because I am anonymous to them, strangers have no shortcuts to getting more information on me, e.g. they can't use the app from TFA to get my movement profile. On the net, anonymity is more difficult, because law enforcement can identify the account owner using the IP.

I guess you're arguing that part of anonymity is that nobody knows where your residence is (and vice versa: nobody knows "who lives in that house over there"). I suppose it's true that in most modern societies, governments have access to that kind of information. I wouldn't attribute that to technology, though. And private individuals at least still have difficulties getting that information, unless you advertise it, e.g. in the phone book. There's a huge difference between information that is available for free and information that's available in return for money or excessive sleuthing.

The privacy impact of the application still looms. Not sure why you focus on it revealing where you live -- it might do that, but it does both more and less. It's simply an effort to gather all the geodata people post (deliberately) or leak (unwittingly). For a careless/unaware user, a large enough amount of images could lead to a fairly complete movement profile available to the world (somewhat related comment [slashdot.org] about the implications). Even if it's not a thorough profile, it still could lead to lots of awkwardness.

None of this is new, I'm sure most Slashdot users a) are aware that some services leak geodata (e.g. in exif tags), including disabling that feature if they don't want to leak geodata, and b) are able to crawl a lot of a person's data and pull the geodata from it to create a profile from it. This isn't a basic technology breakthrough, or anything, I think it's fairly obvious that the author it trying to build awareness in the same way the Firesheep guy successfully did.

Re:Ummmm (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676578)

"I don't know that this really does much you can't do fairly easily already."

That is true for most things. It is easy to commit most crimes and get away with it if you know how. The lucky break we have is that most criminals are absolute idiots or at least so drugged out of their skull that they only go for the easiest of options and often fail even at that. If they weren't idiots, they'd realise that if you are clever enough to make a real mint out of crime without getting caught, you are probably clever enough to make a real mint out of legitimate activities.

This is why I'm nervous whenever someone creates tools that makes crimes easy for idiots and I don't buy the "I'm only providing a tool" or "people can already do this if they want to". Yes, clever crackers can find security holes into many computer systems and take control of them without easy-to-use software, but these people are few and far between. Certainly FAR, FAR fewer than the potential victims, thus most people have safety in numbers on their side. It is unlikely that these clever people will target you.

But the idiots require the easy-to-use tools. This kind of software makes it easier for idiots to stalk people and that is not a good thing. We don't need script kiddies (is that still a common term?) to have more power available to them that they already do.

Re:Ummmm (2)

nanospook (521118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677312)

Yes, but by putting RYAN SEACREAST in the tool I was able to pinpoint roughly 4 hotspots on a map in Hollywood where he sends twitters. You need to consider the geolocation feature of this tool and how easy it was to pull up a map. Most people I know don't bother with twitter but if you are high profile, you should be concerned about this. If a stalker, possibly one with bad intentions (you kicked off my favorite star!!) were to keep on eye on the coffeehouse you visit regularly, he might find it easy to make his point ;)

Re:Ummmm (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678314)

When we were going through Grandma's old letters, we found many of them were merely address to her name followed by "Town".

Apparently if you mailed something in the town, you only had to write "Town" or "Country" for it to be a deliverable address by the local postmaster.

Python, doesn't work, and link to main site. (2)

no known priors (1948918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675558)

A link to the actual site for the program: http://ilektrojohn.github.com/creepy/ [github.com] . Also, this program has copyright notices for 2010. So... (Though admittedly the article is dated 30 March 2011.)

Anyway, yeah, the program is written in Python it seems. And it doesn't even run for me.
Possibly because some dependencies aren't in the Ubuntu 9.10 universe. Bleh.

Anyway, I just wanted to say one other thing. I ain't worried, 'cause I don't use Social Networks! Hah! You crazy stalking types are going to have to try harder to find out about me than that. (Please help, I have no friends.)

Re:Python, doesn't work, and link to main site. (4, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675642)

I'm not worried, because anyone that stalks me is bound to find out that I'm creepier than they are.

I'm creepier than they are (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675758)

I'm not worried, because anyone that stalks me is bound to find out that I'm creepier than they are.

I can confirm this.

Re:Python, doesn't work, and link to main site. (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677934)

You think you're creepy... I even announce it in my username ;)

OK, that username was actually picked because it was the name of the machine I was using when I registered on Slashdot, but that doesn't mean I don't have creepy tendencies (incidentally, that machine was bought on halloween and the 3 hard disks it had were Creepy, Spooky, and Spectral).

Re:Python, doesn't work, and link to main site. (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675730)

You crazy stalking types are going to have to try harder to find out about me than that.

C'mon, there can't be that many Australians in the outskirts of Tokyo that we couldn't find you if we give a rat's ass.

Re:Python, doesn't work, and link to main site. (1)

no known priors (1948918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675978)

The UK government also suggests staying outside 80KM from the nasty nasty nuke power plant. But I didn't know that at the time I posted, otherwise I would have put it down as well. Am I therefore also a British subject?

I'm sure you could find me easily enough if you really wanted to. Well, and enough time and money I guess. I have basically no footprint on this city. The government only knows that I'm in the country, not where I am. My name's not on any hotel documentation, lease or other paperwork. I'm not working. (As mentioned,) I have no friends.

You think I'm an Australian, and you think I'm "living in the outskirts of Tokyo". I think it'll take you more than that to find out who I am.

Worked just fine on windows :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678630)

Haha, silly unixboys.

This App's rubbish (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675762)

This App's rubbish. I put in Uncle Osama and the places it came up with are nowhere near where he is.

This is not a privacy issue. (3, Interesting)

blanks (108019) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675788)

Why are people saying this is a privacy issue? It's not. It uses publicly available information that the person freely posts online for the general public to read. Its like saying articles posted in the New York Times is private information of the authors who write for it. This program dosen't even do anything cool like make HTTP requests from state / city govermently run publicly available data.

There are all ready existing applications out there that have all the features this software has and much much more.

Re:This is not a privacy issue. (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676380)

It is a privacy issue. Many people aren't aware that they are leaking location data, and more aren't aware of the wider implications. And while there are certainly utilities to read a JPEGs exif geodata and access the other services his utility talks to, I don't think there a single tool that does all of it. And this is meant to be user-friendly: dedicated individuals could steal Facebook (etc.) sessions forever, but it took a program like Firesheep to get some public awareness. That's what this is about.

Re:This is not a privacy issue. (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676470)

iPhoto will aggregate geodata and show where all your pictures were taken on a nice map in one batch process.

Re:This is not a privacy issue. (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676606)

Yes, so can Picasa/PicasaWeb. Flickr does it, too. (On a sidenote: Does Flickr strip the GPS exif tags from the original photos if you enable the geo privacy setting?) For most computer users, doing this manually -- even if they are aware that importing it into iPhoto is enough -- would still involve individually downloading dozens if not hundreds of photos. This app does it by itself, aggregating from several sources (and not just jpeg exifs). Still needs to support more data sources, though -- no Facebook? -- I guess it's a WIP.

Re:This is not a privacy issue. (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676680)

It is a privacy issue. Many people aren't aware that they are leaking location data, and more aren't aware of the wider implications. And while there are certainly utilities to read a JPEGs exif geodata and access the other services his utility talks to, I don't think there a single tool that does all of it. And this is meant to be user-friendly: dedicated individuals could steal Facebook (etc.) sessions forever, but it took a program like Firesheep to get some public awareness. That's what this is about.

So this isn't a privacy issue but a public awareness issue? Or is it a public awareness issue about a privacy issue? I'm pretty sure it's an issue, and I don't think it is a privacy issue about a public awareness issue. I'm so confused.

Re:This is not a privacy issue. (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677776)

The problem is the devices. In the case of EXIF data, no phone should ever embed location data into an image without you knowledgeably opting in to that level of sharing. You shouldn't have to be trained in image metadata to use a phone. It's not your job to turn it off. It's the phone designer's job.

Or, since that has clearly failed, it's the role of public policy to set clear, stable boundaries on what hardware and software makers can and can't do with end user's information. The end user will never be aware of those rules, but Apple and co will have to respect them.

Manufacturer of medical-x-ray machine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675808)

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5 finger shoes (-1)

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I like it - it creates awareness (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675934)

Such apps will create the necessary awareness of the dangers of putting too much info online. It'll put a stop to the stupid attitude of "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

It's no longer just the government that's looking into your affairs. It's also the neighbor, your aunt in Australia and your colleagues. And with these kinds of apps they can suddenly dig up a lot more dirt. Dirt which was available all along.

Re:I like it - it creates awareness (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676126)

Why'd someone worry about these people? Up a notch: Your wife's ex. That bully from high school that loved to beat you up. Or just someone you had a flamewar with and told you "if I ever find you, I'll rip you a new one".

Sue-age (0)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675936)

I hope this guy has a good lawyer, because he's going to be named in more than one lawsuit by the stalked.

Re:Sue-age (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676130)

We're punishing the tool maker for its misuse again? Someone should warn Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.

Re:Sue-age (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676356)

Yes. There is a reason guns are not easily licensed-and-bought in most countries, except in maybe war-torn underdeveloped/developing regions (i.e. the likes of Rwanda, Afghanistan) and the U.S.

A weapon is just as responsible as the person using it -- its sole purpose is to harm, and that is all it does. If you want to defend yourself, learn to run fast or something.

~m

Re:Sue-age (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677146)

We're punishing the tool maker for its misuse again? Someone should warn Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.

I can own a gun to defend myself. I might never need to use it.
It wouldn't be hard to convince a jury that the only reason to own stalking software was to stalk someone.

Possibly easy to avoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676266)

According to TFA, this particular app mainly relies on EXIF data in pictures to deduce your location. So just getting rid of those before uploading would probably avoid that kind of stalking.

"News" (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676370)

cree.py has been out for some time now.

Advanced Forensics Tool (2)

laxergreg (1901558) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676460)

This guy got it all wrong. He didn't make a creepy geolocation aggregator; he made an "advanced geolocation forensics tool for use in the intelligence community". Had he labeled it properly and been more greedy, he could be laughing all the way to the bank! He definitely could have taken a page out of the Hoglund/Barr book here.

It's not stalking. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676466)

How is it stalking when the alleged "stalked" are intentionally publishing their location data?

People who constantly "check in" and publish their exact GPS coordinates online 100 times a day have no right to bitch about people following them around online.

Strip the metadata server-side? (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676552)

Would it really be that hard for flickr etc. to strip out the metadata from the uploaded photos, then allowing the users to opt-in if they want to leave the data in place? There could even be an "advanced" setting to allow users to pick and choose (date OK, camera OK, location NO). (They may already have this, didn't check.)

.

No comment on the filename and download directory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676698)

The path on the download and the filename downloaded both contain the phrase: 'ilektrojohn'

I like trojan?

I'm not a programmer, but I see posters who claim to be and say they'll be looking at the source. I'll wait to download until I see the all clear post...

You don't need an app for that (2)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677440)

Given the way a lot of Facebook users post anything and everything about themselves, it is not necessary to install this software to digitally stalk someone.

Re:You don't need an app for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678732)

And yet, despite being on facebook, twitter, and flickr, this program could find nothing on me. You'd probably be able to figure out where I am better than Creepy did.

Who needs an app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677516)

I just send a txt that says "dude where u at?"

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