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Sousveillance in Seattle - Watching the Watchers

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the steve-mann-my-hero dept.

Privacy 489

Eh-Wire writes "At the recent ACM Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, Steve Mann - cyborg numero uno - led a troop of conference attendees on a surveillance camera hunt and digital capture. Their antics confounded rent-a-cops in a downtown Seattle shopping mall who had difficulty with the concept of having their surveillance cameras surveilled."

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Huh? (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236489)

"What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions."

Does this make sense to anyone?

Taking pictures of cameras taking pictures of you is not keeping a record of your own actions.

Further, unless he's alleging that video will be doctored, the record that is kept of him, privacy issues aside, is just that. How is taking pictures of the devices recording YOU going to prevent them from improperly keeping an accurate photographic record of your own actions. Again, whether they SHOULD be keeping record of your actions is beside the point for this specific question.

All these are - wallets that require someone else to swipe their ID to see your ID, etc. - are just publicity stunts to get people thinking about privacy. Great. People should be thinking about it. But then they jump from the likes of the GAP in a mall to government (???), and apparently liken a lowly employee in the mechanics of either someone who should themselves have to give up personal information for simply asking for identification for whatever purpose (again, the extent that it is appropriate is beside the point).

Seems a little wrongheaded to me.

To say nothing of the fact that almost all malls are private property.

Mann asked the guard why, if the Mont Blanc cameras were recording him, he couldn't, in turn, record the cameras.

Why should a random private mall employee have a philosophical privacy and surveillance discussion with some self-righteous, cynical privacy advocate. Who, by the way, expects exactly what happened, i.e., worthless responses, to happen?

But sure to please and amuse countless slashdotters, I'm sure. (Yeah. Because confusing near-minimum wage mall security is really hard.)

Re:Huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236557)

Mod parent up!!!

You take a rathter dim view... (5, Insightful)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236645)

...on what constitutes Mall Security. In my years of working retail, I had some working relationships with the security teams of several department stores.

More then a few of them were quite effective, ex-military and reservists that enjoyed providing protection, whether it was to people, goods or property. They weren't morons incapable of rational or deep philosophical conversations. They just ended up where they ended up and felt comfortable where they were.

lol @ mall security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236692)

these are the people who are not licensed peace officers, can't carry a gun, can't leave store property, and failed out of the police academy.

Re:You take a rathter dim view... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236799)

"They just ended up where they ended up and felt comfortable where they were."

You've just described my two cats.

I wouldn't put them in charge of anything, let alone security.

Re:You take a rather dim view... (5, Funny)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236803)

I too have known a few mall security guards as well. Very good at their job, too... able to maintain a secure and safe environment while pulling off donuts in the Mall Security SUV in the parking lot.

Just saying, you find all types...

Re:You take a rathter dim view... (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236833)

More then a few of them were quite effective, ex-military and reservists that enjoyed providing protection,

Or at least that's what they told you ... Sounds like delusions of grandeur to me.

Re:You take a rathter dim view... (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236877)

I knew this guy who worked at a certain downtown indoor Seattle mall in secruity. He was an ex MP in the Airforce. He decided he didn't like it so much so he ended up getting a job at a high end clothing store in the mall.

Re:You take a rathter dim view... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236902)

Whoopdie doo. So he washed out of the military, that somehow makes him special?

To future employer:

"Hey, I didn't really like college very much, so I dropped out after a year and a half, but I did go to college, so I'm obviously just as good as everyone else with a degree!"

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236665)

...unless he's alleging that video will be doctored...

CLAUDE: I'd like to point out that this tape has not been tampered with or edited in any way. It even has a timecode on it, and those are very hard to fake.

JUDGE: For the benefit of the court, would you please explain "timecode"?

CLAUDE: Just because I don't know what it is ... doesn't mean I'm lying.

(Ah, the wisdom of Strange Brew.)

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236669)

Points well taken, but I think the meaning of Mann's comment at the end that you quoted was meant to be broader than the context of their mall outing. In other words, let's say he was accused of mugging someone in the parking lot, but he has photographic evidence of his own, which when matched with the surveillance cameras from two different store locations - i.e. The Gap camera, and the parking lot camera - could prove that he was indeed more likely to be at The Gap than in the parking lot when the mugging occurred. The idea is that when accused with the parking lot cam data, he could counter with his own photos from The Gap, and then when they pulled The Gap cam data they would see that he was indeed at The Gap. Without his photo evidence at The Gap he's relying on "Big Brother" to be providing ALL of the evidence which might or might not happen.

Granted, all of this is mostly philosophical in nature and USUALLY wouldn't be a problem in day-to-day life, but there is always that 0.01% chance that such a thing WOULD happen to you. Nevertheless, the dude seems like a privacy elitist to the extreme - and a major geek.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236840)

Yeah... who ever heard of video editing...

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

moorley (69393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236676)

You know I hate the sentiment of this post because I want to disagree with it. But I can't.

In part I feel for what Mann is doing but I have to agree his attempt to throw light on the issue is infantile and silly.

Is there a better way to make the point? Or does the point need more sharpening/definition?

I'm at a loss...

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

tmasssey (546878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236914)

You know what? I too agree with you: the idea of taking pictures of cameras is pointless.

But the more I thought about it, the more clever it becomes. It forces people to think about the actions of the cameras based on an action that, in and of itself, is harmless and non-threatening. The fact that people were *threatened* by such a non-threatening, even pointless action should cause them to think long and hard about how they should feel about the impact of the actual surveillance.

So, after futher reflection, I would have to say that their actions are brilliant. Will most people think that deeply about it? Maybe not immediately. But I think that at least *some* people will reflect upon this.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236684)

Yeah. Because confusing near-minimum wage mall security is really hard/blockquote.


Mall security is hardly minimum wage, starting pay is around $12/hour and consists mostly of EMT & Police Academy students. So pull your head out of your ass and get your facts straight.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236733)

lol @ $12/hr rent-a-wannabe-cop

also, did I mention these people cannot arrest you?

lol @ mall security.

Re:Huh? (0, Troll)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236702)

As to Cameras...
Have you ever taken a tour of your local 911 call center? I am sure you may have spotted the camera at that busy street you buzzed through at +10mph over limit, but, from the vantage point of the watcher's seat you can see pedestrian ways, many sidewalks, fronts of buildings (complete with hordes of people making use of now illegal cigarette lighters).

Some larger cities have direct hooks to the feeds from malls, public buildings, many office skyscrapers, heck even some MacDs and other such places.

I realize that fear of scratching my privates in public and having that magic moment recorded for all eternity in some bureaucrat's get_my_jollies file is not in the same league as "combatting terrorism" (tm). I realize that "bend over and cough" is the new standard of good citizenship, but, it would really be nice if just once, all busybody types would experience a busted snoot when they poke it into other people's business.

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

DaLukester (687299) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236705)

This is one of those situations where the CEO of Equifax would have been right. I dont remember the exact quote but in effect he said "It isn't your information, it's other people's information about you".

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236735)

Why should a random private mall employee have a philosophical privacy and surveillance discussion with some self-righteous, cynical privacy advocate.

The mall employee doesn't have to justify himself until he tries to stop me from doing something. Sure, in many cases, the justification is obvious, e.g. if I'm attempting to steal something. But recording things? Asking why people are forbidden from doing so is certainly a legitimate question.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

Rocko Bonaparte (562051) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236736)

I think the point of the mall survey--however misguided as you say--is that these cameras can unnerve the public, and the public can't do squat. However, When a camera unnerves security, they can do whatever they want to stop it.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236780)

To say nothing of the fact that almost all malls are private property.

Just because something is private property doesn't mean that you can take away the rights of people who legally might occupy that property.

For example, I can't enslave you if I invite you over for dinner, despite the fact that you'd be on my private property.

A more relevant example for malls is cameras in changing rooms; that do exist and are regulated reasonably well -- otherwise lots of mall stores would have a lucrative side-business of pr0n if they had the rights to do whatever they wanted with cameras on their private property.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236802)

"What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions."

Does this make sense to anyone?

Hell yah it does.

What part is hard to get?

You: Want to hold me accountable for my actions.

Me: Okay. Then, let me keep a perfect record of them.

You: Oh, no- we're going to be watching you, and we're going to control all watching of you.

Me: What if you doctor up some photos of me? How do I defend myself?

You: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that. And, further, you never said it.

Me: Wha?

You: See, here's the complete audio recording of our whole conversation.

Me: You cut out everything after-

You: I said that this recording was complete.

Me: But-

You: None of this is happening right now. Move along, citizen.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236851)

What part is hard to get?

Dave likes to play the Devil's Advocate on Slashdot (aka trolling). He rarely has anything real to put forth towards the discussion. He just likes to incite riots and quote a lot of stuff from the article so the idiots that don't RTFA don't have to.

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

DaveK08054 (801355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236849)

I think you will find that malls are not so much "private property" as they are "places of public accommodation", which dramatically affects the rights of the public. However I don't think "discrimination" against geeks with cameras is part of any legislation, so it probably won't change anything in this case.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

IanDanforth (753892) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236913)

Your arguments are logically inconsistant.

>>Taking pictures of cameras taking pictures of you is not keeping a record of your own actions.

People take pictures of places they have been even if *gasp* they arn't in the photos. Our environments are key to our experience. Recording those environments is closely akin to recording your actions even if the camera isn't focused on you.

>>How is taking pictures of the devices recording YOU going to prevent them from improperly keeping an accurate photographic record of your own actions.

Knowing that a record exists is the first step to knowing how it might be used against you. Weather it ever *is* doesn't matter. Just as survelliance prevents crime out of the fear of being caught, counter survelliance deters data manipulation, "accidental loss", or misinterpretation by providing a secondary record.

>>almost all malls are private property

I dislike this statement because it gives rise to a false dichotomy where you only possess rights on public land.

>>Why should a random private mall employee have a ... discussion with some self-righteous, cynical privacy advocate[?]

1. For attention as you noted
2. Because even mall security guards are people, with brains, and might be convinced to ignore stupid rules like "No Photographing the Cameras."

-----------

Finally I must remark, while you call Mann a cynic you are utterly wrong. He is the most outrageous kind of idealist. To think that a mall guard could care about privacy rights. Or that normal people can be rallied around works like "Panopticon" or "Kafkaesque." That is brilliant and praiseworthy optimism.

What is truly offensive is an atitude which says that people who work in malls are dumb, corperations can do whatever they want, and ultimately any fight centered on philosophy is stupid and untenable.

That is cynacism of the worst kind.

-Ian

Re:Huh? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236996)

Taking pictures of cameras taking pictures of you is not keeping a record of your own actions.

It most certainly is if your actions are the taking of pictures of the cameras taking pictures or your actions taking picutures of them.

Get the picture?

KFG

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237001)

and apparently liken a lowly employee in the mechanics of either someone who should themselves have to give up personal information for simply asking for identification for whatever purpose (again, the extent that it is appropriate is beside the point).

Why shouldn't a lowly clerk who asks for my license need to swipe their own to see it?

My license serves exactly three tasks - It lets me legally drive on public roads; the edge works really well for smoothing the bubbles out from under CD stick-on labels; and it provides some degree of proof who I am.

The first ONLY has relevance to police while I sit in the driver's seat of a vehicle on a public road. The second doesn't matter to anyone but me (and those who appreciate the quality of my CD labelling skills).

The third, though?

In almost all of the situations where someone asks for my license to ID me, they either don't actually need it, or the license doesn't say anything more than they already know. Two examples come to mind...

First, buying age-sensitive things such as alcohol. Guess what, I don't care if kids get alcohol (I did as one, as did we all), and I passed my 21st birthday quite a good number of years ago. Unnecessary to show an ID. As an aside, I don't look even remotely under 21, but I consider that nearly irrelevant to the bigger issue - The law doesn't say a store needs to ID me, just that I can't buy before turning 21.

Second, using a credit card. It ALREADY has my picture on it! What the hell do they think they'll prove by seeing another very similar picture of me on a different small plastic card?


Personally, I think making clerks swipe their own ID seems like a VERY good idea, and I would very much like to have a wallet with such a feature. I have just as much right to their information as they do to mine - Absolutely none, and I want them to fully realize that fact.

Nice... (2, Interesting)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236501)

He has designed a wallet that requires someone to show ID in order to see his ID. The device consists of a wallet with a card reader on it. His driver's license can be seen only partially through a display. And in order for someone to see the rest of his ID, they have to swipe their own ID through the card reader to open the wallet.

Oh, if only world politics worked this way.

U.S: We wish to disarm Iraq.
Iraq: Bzzt. We're sorry, but in order to disarm our weapons, you must disarm your weapons too.

Mann quoted Simon Davies of Privacy International, a London-based nonprofit that monitors civil liberties issues: "The totalitarian regime is the regime that would like to know everything about everyone but reveal nothing about itself," Mann said.

Good luck getting inspectors into places in the US.
If only there were someone with a camera with enough balls/stupidity/both to try that out? Michael Moore anyone?

Re:Nice... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236573)

"Bzzt."

The mechanics of the entire UN demanded numerous times that Iraq disarm. Numerous times. This was only the latest. [un.org]

I know that moral relativists like yourself like to think that the US and Iraq are more or less the "same thing", on equal footing, just with different philosophies.

Re:Nice... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236677)

Please, do tell...How exactly is Saddam's mass murder of Iraqis any different from Bush/Blair's? Oh, that's right...We're killing for democracy, justice, and the "American way". Oh...well...that makes it ok then. Who's the relativist here?

Re:Nice... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236804)

The mechanics of the entire UN demanded numerous times that Iraq disarm. Numerous times.

Pssst. In case you weren't paying any attention, or you were watching Fox maybe... THEY DID.

Who were the people insisting that they hadn't disarmed yet? Oh, that's right, the USA! Who invaded them looking for WMDs? The USA again! Who didn't find a SINGLE GOD DAMNED WMD? ... I'm thinking it was the USA! Unless you found some WMDs that you're not telling the rest of us about.

Woo woo, here comes the cluetrain. Last stop, you!

Re:Nice... (-1, Troll)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236596)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot_troll [wikipedia.org]

So Mr. Moderator, which of the following was the above? Disruptive? Offensive? Deceptive? Idiosyncratic?

God, this groupthink gets on my nerves sometimes.

Re:Nice... (-1, Offtopic)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236625)

Go figure... The explanation of what a troll is gets marked down as troll.

Go ahead and mod this one down too. Be consistent!

Re:Nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236832)

Done! Now mark this one up, just to be spiteful!

>:-D

Re:Nice... (0, Offtopic)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236663)

How could you mark this "Troll" when it's obviously "Offtopic"!

Re:Nice... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236811)

See the "Nationalistic insults" section. Some crackhead American obviously thinks that holding the USA to the same standards as the rest of the world is an insult to their nation. American Exceptionalism [wikipedia.org] at its most obvious.

Re:Nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236882)

The mods must be smoking crack today. Parent post is not a troll.

Confounded rent-a-cops (4, Funny)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236528)

"Their antics confounded rent-a-cops"

Gee, that's tough to do.

Re:Confounded rent-a-cops (1)

LouCifer (771618) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236578)

And the rent-a-cops were heard shouting

"Stop. Or I'll be forced to say 'stop' again!"

With the great issues we have in computing... (-1, Offtopic)

Stormcrow309 (590240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236537)

...is this the major issue to worry about?

Come on guys, can we not do better then that? How about getting all the penis enlargement spam out of my wife's email box and all of the breast enlargement out of mine. At least get the spammer's software hit the right sex of the poor saps they pick on.

Maybe it's intentional - and clever marketing. (0, Offtopic)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236660)

Rather than playing into the recipients insecurities, why not cause their partners to realize how dissatisfied they are?

You get a breast enlargement spam. You start thinking, "Man, it *would* be nice if she had bigger boobs. Maybe I'll get her this cream."

Meanwhile, she's checking her e-mails and thinking, "Hmm, needledick could use some help. Maybe if I get pills from this one place, and a vacuum pump from this other one..."

Not that they really intended that, but it's another valid way to market. ED pill commercials often show how much happier the women are.

Re:Maybe it's intentional - and clever marketing. (1)

Stormcrow309 (590240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236781)

Maybe so... reverse marketing

Back to my original point though, this is a waste of time and money. I am not surprised in seeing members of academia there, wasting my hard earned dollars. Just pass out the tinfoil hats.

Lets work on issues like Inuit's security issues, improving LINUX device support, or even trying to remove the required GEEK Factor (GF-The required amount of technological knowledge to figure something out) to handle LINUX.

More government programs? (1, Insightful)

selectspec (74651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236542)

Do we need some new government work programs here? Do these people really have this much free time? One of those wack jobs actually was a professor, getting paid to be a nutbag off tax payers' and students' dime.

Re:More government programs? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236768)

It's called an "extracurricular activity", you fucking moron. Just because he IS a professor doesn't mean that everything he does is in the capacity of a professor. Anyway, even if he is receiving funds for this, they aren't necessarily public - even if you wouldn't toss a thin dime his way, it doesn't mean that no one would.

Moron.

Re:More government programs? (4, Interesting)

Zeebs (577100) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236893)

getting paid to be a nutbag off tax payers' and students' dime.

Thats the best kind of professor, or would you rather he brought a bible(or accepted textbook) to class and read directly from that. So what hes doing right now is 'worthless' other then perhaps he actually did he job as a professor and caused people to think, in this case about their privacy.

This has to be proof of a low UID getting a free ride from the mods, I don't mean to attack personally. Just because you can't see the value in something doesn't mean its devoid of value.

Also the professor was a Canadian so leave your tax payers arugment out of, we canucks are used to paying the government for useless shit doesn't seem to bother us as much.

Re:More government programs? (2, Informative)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236980)

Steve Mann isn't a nutjob -- he's essentially been a Cyborg for a while, now. He's one of the pioneers in this area, and some of his work is truly pathbreaking (such as the Eyetap device).

His idea is that if others insist on recording all your actions, it's probably best that you record all your actions as well -- that's not so bad, when you consider the way folks can and do get framed in real life.

Someone has to watch the watchers, or at the very least make sure that the watchers aren't making things up. I see that as a laudable goal.

This requires a camera? (4, Interesting)

symbolic (11752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236559)

At the Gap, photographers were told they couldn't take pictures because the Gap didn't want competitors to study and copy its clothing displays.

Good laugh. All they need to do it walk in and LOOK at it. Duh.

in any event, I don't think malls are the best place to start - I think public cameras, being monitored by government agencies, or cameras placed in locations where we live would be a more justified target. Malls have a right to protect their assets from shoplifters. On the other hand, I'd argue that a property manager or government agency doesn't necessarily have the right to watch me as I come and go, who I'm with, or anything else of that nature.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236670)

At the Gap, photographers were told they couldn't take pictures because the Gap didn't want competitors to study and copy its clothing displays.

Good laugh. All they need to do it walk in and LOOK at it. Duh.

Guess noone has cell phones that take pictures in Seattle ... um, wait, then why do we have a law about that if they don't exist? ...

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

swilde23 (874551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236716)

Even if they had cell phones, it would be the same problem as bringing in your monster, high-rez, digi cam. A camera's a camera (in their mind)

However, what's stopping someone, specifically a competitor, from just buying an article of GAP clothing and modeling theirs after it.

I could see them being paranoid about someone getting a camera inside their design offices though. That's where the real damage would be done.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

Nopal (219112) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236835)

There's a lot more to marketing than prices. Item locations, arrangement, displays, coupon machines, floor plans, decor, quantities on-shelf, "look," etc. are all marketing elements and a store may like to keep that from being photographed by competitors.

Many stores have a "no camera" policy, including supermarkets. As long as those stores are private property, they are well within their right to place such restrictions.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

swilde23 (874551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236878)

Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with stores prohibiting unauthorized photography on their premises. But I don't think it has anything to do with the current "styles" on their shelves.

OT regarding sig (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236683)

"Will slashdot ever drag itself into the year 2005 and provide the ability to edit posts? "

I really doubt it as it would be abused by trolls. They'd post a comment with a link that would get modded +5, then they'd go back and edit the link to direct to goatse or somesuch.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

OhPlz (168413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236697)

If a mall should be able to guard against shoplifters shouldn't property managers be able to guard against similar theft or vandalism to their properties?

Why is one okay and the other not?

If you're being recorded walking on a public sidewalk well, guess what? You're on a public sidewalk. You get no expectation of privacy there. Anyone else walking on the sidewalk can see you too.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236923)


I'm sure there might be exceptions - but in many, cases, a company will install cameras so that people who can't bring themselves to better protect their own assets (their cars, for example) would be afforded an extra measure of security (if in only in theory). Unfortunately, there's a lot of baggage that goes with it - like having everyone's personal business being monitored by some unknown entity. As with any information, you have no idea where this will end up- it's completely out of your control.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

El (94934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236713)

Gee... you mean The Gap doesn't publish catalogs???

Government agencies may not have a right to watch you, but owners of private property have the right to do anything they want... including monitor you in the restroom. If you don't like, don't go there! (By rights, they should have to tell you that you're being recorded. Not sure what the law says on this, but most of those cameras are there as a deterent, so "secret" cameras really don't make any sense.)

Hang on a sec (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236898)

It isn't private. It is opened to the public. The public are invited in. Publicly. As in not a private invite-only.

PS your taxes have gone in subsidies for these places. So it isn't entirely privately funded, either.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236900)

Sometimes I'm really glad I don't live in the U.S.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

ween14 (827520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236922)

I am not completely sure about this, but I believe that private property owners do _not_ have a right to monitor you in the restroom. Although you are on their property, they are still invading your privacy when they monitor the restroom as a restroom has an inherit expectation of privacy.

Re:This requires a camera? (2, Interesting)

lost in place (248578) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236945)

Gee... you mean The Gap doesn't publish catalogs???

What do catalogs have to do with store display layouts?

Government agencies may not have a right to watch you, but owners of private property have the right to do anything they want... including monitor you in the restroom.

Actually, they don't. The mall may be privately owned but it is a public place (eg, you can't expose yourself in a mall just because it's private property). In a restroom you have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" and the owners can't violate that without consequences.

Re:This requires a camera? (3, Insightful)

Politburo (640618) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237010)

owners of private property have the right to do anything they want

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Property owners are not gods! They are required by law to do many things, and are prohibited by law from doing many things. Simply owning property does not mean you can completely control what goes on on that property. Yes, it does give you broad powers over the use of the property, but you do not instantly become a dictator because you own some arbitrarily defined piece of land. This is a very common misconception that property owners love to see spread around.

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

Samurai Cat! (15315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236791)

Good laugh. All they need to do it walk in and LOOK at it. Duh.

Beyond that - what's to stop a rival company's agent from simply purchasing the items in question, taking them back to their employer, where they can be examined thoroughly? :/

Re:This requires a camera? (1)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236939)

One time when I was travelling, I happened to be in the very first location of a local convience store chain. They even had a plaque about it. When I went to take a picture of the plaque, I was told I wan't allowed to for privacy reasons.

Sousveillance (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236563)

Ok, this is either the art of looking at sauce, the art of looking under tables, or the art of spying on Dr. Seuss.

Editors? (0, Troll)

schleyfox (826198) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236597)

Karma be damned, correct the spelling in the titles, please.

Re:Editors? (3, Informative)

pegasustonans (589396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236619)

From Wikipedia: Sousveillance refers both to inverse surveillance, as well as to the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity (i.e. personal experience capture).

Re:Editors? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236664)

Karma be damned
yeah, it will be.

Re:Editors? (0, Offtopic)

U1timateZer0 (855425) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236739)

You're such a fucking tool. . .

Re:Editors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236794)

You're such a fucking tool. . .

Says U1timateZer0...

Philosophical Argument (5, Insightful)

sellin'papes (875203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236629)

There is a strong philosophical argument being made here. It is that authorities are able to expose our personal information (image, id, fingerprint, etc) but we are unable to do the same in return.

The relationship then of authority to civilian is one of dominance and subordination. The ideas presented at the conference are attempting to redefine that relationship.

Re:Philosophical Argument (1)

william.gunn (864377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236901)

Exactly. It's a great idea, totally obscured by self-important silliness. I almost puked reading the wired article, and it's exactly the reason it's hard to defend positions like this to people who aren't familiar with these ideas. Why film mall cameras, which they have every right to use to protect their private property? I can only guess that they went to the mall for three reasons:

They wanted the crowd reaction.

They couldn't find enough government cameras.

They didn't want to deal with real cops.

They didn't do the cause any favors by going into a mall and acting retarded.

Smoked Glass and all (5, Funny)

swilde23 (874551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236634)

used a smoked-glass oval guard tower to induce discipline and good behavior

Sounds an awful lot like Las Vegas casinos to me.

...

Oh wait, you say it was designed for a prision. Oh, I suppose that makes sense too.

It's things like this... (5, Insightful)

william.gunn (864377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236655)

...that give privacy advocates a bad name. He's not a professor, he's a performance artist.

Re:It's things like this... (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236872)

I don't know. It seems to me that although his methods are little more than publicity stunts, at least they do get people talking about the issues.

I mean, when was the last time you heard Joe Sixpack considering the implications of being under near constant surveillance?

But . (5, Funny)

OmgTEHMATRICKS (836103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236666)

Who watches the watchers watching the watchers?

Re:But . (5, Funny)

chrisbtoo (41029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236741)

Slashdot.

Re:But . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236783)

Slashdot of course!

Re:But . (1)

mole0026 (780908) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236809)

I dunno. Coast Guard?

Re:But . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236810)

Who watches the watchers watching the watchers?

That's easy - they're being followed by a bunch of guys from CALTECH performing sursousveillance.

Re:But . (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236845)

I dunno, but I think digital watches are pretty nifty...

Re:But . (2, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236903)

Who watches the watchers watching the watchers?

Mall security, apparently...

And you, and I'm watching you watching them watching us... ad infinitum [penny-arcade.com] .

Outrage with no answers (4, Insightful)

tyates (869064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236681)

These kind of publicity stunts annoy me because they're devoid of any real solutions. Stores need cameras to catch shoplifters and prevent petty crimes. Is Mann advocating that these cameras be removed? No - he's just saying we should be "aware" of all the surveillance. Okay, fine, we're aware, but what's your specific solution? Oh, you don't have one? Then go away.

Re:Outrage with no answers (1)

tmasssey (546878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237009)

If everyone thought like that, no progress would ever be made. We know that cameras have to exist for certain purposes. But where is the balance between privacy and profit? Are we too far one way or the other? How else are you going to answer these questions without people even thinking about the options?

We all know that there are cameras. But do you think the majority of people give thought to just how *many* cameras there are? Or do you think people think about how much they are giving up, versus how much they are gaining?

Doesn't the fact that there was such a strong reaction to something that is really so pointless (taking pictures of cameras!) demonstrate that there is value in getting people to think about the power of surveilance? I would agree with you if everyone thought that their actions were meaningless, but in fact just the opposite happened: people reacted *strongly* to their actions, the sousveilance. So why shouldn' people react strongly to the surveilance?

Re:Outrage with no answers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12237011)

My solution involves a bat, but not Bruce Wayne.

Maybe if everybody is aware, more people will try to think of a solution and we'll actually have one. What's wrong with raising awareness? It's what a fuckton of the money to combat HIV/AIDS in developing countries goes to.

Ben Folds: Rent-A-Cop (0, Offtopic)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236717)

Since we're on the theme of rent-a-cops, and since this article is about one of the most useless activities that has taken place in a while, I thought I might entertain you with the lyrics from Ben Folds's "Rent-a-Cop":

I'm 'trolling food court for girls
Yeah, it's the best job in the world
They know they're safe with me
They love my little mustache
They love a man in uniform
Oh

With my sunglass they can't
See what I'm really looking at
And as they're walking by
I whisper through my doughnut
Hey baby, baby light that ass on fire

How long must this day go on?
I got to stand here two more hours till I
Punch the clock
How long must this day go on?

No kid, they don't give me a gun
I don't get paid enough to run
So you can call me what you want
I'll be hanging at the check out
Checking out your girlfriend
Figure out how she's going to fit all of that
Butt into that underwear - yeah
Yeah

Hey girl if you can't recall
Where you parked your daddy's car
Then I could help you out
All alone in this
great big mall
Oh

How long must this day go on?
I got to stand here two more hours
Till it's Miller Time
How long must this day go on?
Whoa oh oh, oh oh

I'm 'trolling food court for girls

I whisper through my doughnut
I whisper through my doughnut
I whisper through my doughnut
Hey baby baby, hey baby baby baby
Light that
Light that ass on fire

Alright, that's good

I think they missed their mark (4, Insightful)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236731)

Mann asked the guard why, if the Mont Blanc cameras were recording him, he couldn't, in turn, record the cameras. But the philosophical question, asked again at Nordstrom and the Gap, was beyond the comprehension of store managers who were more concerned with the practical issues of prohibiting store photography.

It sounds like a bunch of people who are trying to make a good point are basically just making life more difficult for the new generation of blue collar workers who staff service industries and who consider their days blessed if they can get through them uneventfully. Especially middle-layer managers of mall chains, whose job description is basically to make problems go away as quickly as possible before somebody notices.

Then again, when I was slinging burgers as a youth, somebody creating a scene would have been a welcome distraction. Still, I think their point is well-meant but poorly-executed. Most retail chains are going to disallow photography inside the retail space for a number of reasons, most of which your typical manager is utterly ignorant. So the fact that stores were ushering them out is irrelevent. If they were taking pictures of the color of the walls or the brand name of the urinal cakes, they should have expected a similar response.

A cute idea that, like most of these kinds of demonstrations, ultimately makes transparent that the people engaging in these kinds of stunts aren't that bright. I'm all in favor of privacy advocacy but this kind of stuff ... well, at best it raises awareness, at worse it paints privacy advocates as misguided loonies. I question whether or not the stunt is worth the tradeoff, especially since it doesn't really prove or demonstrate anything other than the obvious fact that private retail spaces typically disallow photography of any kind on their grounds.

Re:I think they missed their mark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12237030)

are basically just making life more difficult for the new generation of blue collar workers who staff service industries...

Tough shit. You choose to work for slime, deal with the public repercussions. Just because you didn't necessarily CHOOSE to work there, doesn't mean you're immune to criticism (no matter how pointless it may be).

If no one worked for, say, Enron, government intervention could be reduced in general. The way out of the "welfare state" isn't to burn down the safety net, but rather to get rid of this idiotic complacency workers have with their situations in life. What the hell right does a manager have NOT KNOWING why his store has the policies it does?

Immaturity in TFA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236743)

At Nordstrom, an undercover security guard who looked like Baby Spice and sported a badge identifying her as Agent No. 1, summoned a manager who told Mann that customers would be disturbed by the handheld cameras.

Illogically, she didn't have a problem with participants pointing their conference bag domes around the store to take photos, just with the handheld cameras.


The author needs to read his own article before calling this illogical. She was concerned with customer comfort, and people often don't like to see folks taking pictures in a place where they're trying on clothes. Her logic is perfectly consistent in that she knows that the bag domes go virtually unnoticed by the customer, whereas the handhelds don't.

Also, what does the "Baby Spice" dig contribute here, other than letting everyone know how immature the author is?

RTFA be damned, I stopped reading at this point.

Nonsensical... (5, Informative)

buddhahat (410161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236754)

This seems like such nonsense..what is the point of videotaping or photographing the cameras? How does videotaping a camera that is videotaping you deliver on the following quote from the article?
"What I argue is that if I'm going to be held accountable for my actions that I should be allowed to record ... my actions," Mann said. "Especially if somebody else is keeping a record of my actions.???

Now actually taping your ACTIONS makes perfect sense if you are going to be doing something that is potentially dangerous or you expect to have a brush with the law. The New York Times just had an article on how a bunch of "amateur" video tapes of the Republican Convention protests have shown that the NYPD have either doctored evidence or simply lied about what protesters did when they were arrested.

Among other incidents, the amateur video shows defendents who were charged with resisting arrest in no way putting up a fight when arrested.

link to article http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/12/nyregion/12video .html? [nytimes.com]

Securing the security... (2, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236756)

Actually, there is a pretty strong reason to prevent taking photos of security devices. That is, preventing intrusion. The first thing a thief does when entering a monitored area is to somehow fool the security - and it's much harder if the security devices are unknown. Yes, security through obscurity - the obscurity being just one of elements of the system, not the only one - is more efficient. A well planned robbery would require detailed plans of the building, with focus on the security devices. Obviously the management wants to prevent that. ...although, in the era of miniature cameras that can be easily hidden in a handbag etc, taking photos in a way not visible to the shop security is quite easy...

open-loop (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236763)

i worked on a project sort of like this with a collective in chicago. we mapped and documented surveillance camera's in chicago's loop (downtown) area. our site is up at http://open-loop.org/ [open-loop.org] .

we had some issues with security guards asking us not to tape, but mostly restricted our documentation to public areas (cameras monitoring public space), so it wasn't as much of an issue.
the surveillance camera players have some more camera maps on their site [notbored.org]

and probably my favorite application of this idea is the institute for applied autonomy's i-see [66.93.183.118] , which allows users to map a "path of least surveillance" through nyc.

cyveillance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236807)

When are we going to have a group that is watching Cyveillance? If you don't know who this organization is, you should.

Does this remind anyone of ... ? (0, Offtopic)

mapMonkey (207912) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236823)

... the Simpsons espiode when Homer discovers his Hippie roots and drives around town with the jester hat on "freaking out" the squares?

The ID that requires ID (3, Insightful)

zkn (704992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236831)

Is a great ideer. I should at least be able to record who recorded my ID.
So when I get my creditcard bill, I can see that Greg Pinpolowsky wanted to see my ID when I bought my last computer. However I think the shops would dislike of this, private persons "gathering" personal information is generaly disliked, since few would trust them not to misuse it.
Corporate bodies however, who are actually in a position to misuse personal information, are generaly trusted.

In Soviet Russia the system is watched over by you!

Say what you will... (5, Insightful)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236852)

Say what you will about the paranoia of all these sousveillance nuts, but don't pretend that it doesn't serve a valid purpose. For instance, remember all those RNC convention protestors [nytimes.com] who got arrested last year? And those sworn affidavits from cops saying that those kids had been kicking and screaming, resisting arrest and so forth? Yeah, those cops were making shit up.

I wonder why this hasn't gotten wider play. Are we now entirely unsurprised when cops perjure themselves? Had it not been for some paranoid kids with camcorders, a lot of people would have been unjustly imprisoned. I mean, more than they already were.

--grendel drago

FiRst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236859)

or chair, retuRn [goat.cx]

Unnerving? (2, Insightful)

stubear (130454) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236916)

"Mann sported his signature camera eyewear, while some of the other participants wore CFP conference bags around their necks. The bags had a dark plastic dome stitched on one side -- modeled after store surveillance domes -- which they pointed randomly at passersby, unnerving them."

No kidding this was unnerving. Whenever anybody displays behavior ooutside the norm and tries forcing themselves upon passerbys it's always unnerving, Mann et al are not special in this case. I'm guessing the large group of pale, nerdy looking people would be unnerving enough, the plastic bubbles were merely icing on the cake.

fuCker (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236929)

shoaut the loudest Jesus Up The

from the steve-mann-my-hero dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236960)

This article deserves no coverage whatsoever. This is merely an attempt to elicit a predictable reaction from ordinary individuals going about their daily business; merely a vain effort to highlight a supposed injustice that... get this... doesn't even exist.

Slashdot=old news.posted on fazed.1AM (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236964)

If you want to get it before slashdot, just go to fark.com or fazed.net It's always posted on slashdot a day or month later. Slashdot had it's day, it pretty much sux now that the "reel smart wonz" have taken over. It's more like "News for TURDS".
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