Presumably the Secret Service are fanbois ...
... Maybe they get discounts on ipods. They are certainly quick to jump on anyone who ... um .. I'll stop there.
An artist who surreptitiously installed a video art installation on computers in two New York Apple Stores says that four US Secret Service agents awakened him on Thursday morning, produced a search warrant, then confiscated his couputers and other kit. Kyle McDonald Kyle McDonald The project that got Brooklyn, New York, …
I believe the traditional way of dealing with Apple is to issue a counter suit.
"The technician had apparently traced the traffic to the site McDonald used to upload the program to Apple Store computers — and installed it himself."
And there you have it... Software piracy!
Uh, how does that work?
Somebody, somewhere is pushing very hard the idea that face-recognition software works, even though it doesn't (not the camera-type software that can say "that is a face", but high-performance software that can say "that is your face"). El Reg seem to be believers. Does anyone know why?
What are they doing involved in this case? Why are they wasting money on it? Artist or not, the guy installed software on computers that weren't his, weren't in his charge and that he had no permission from the owners of those computers to install. That's straight-up criminal behaviour.
The snapping photos probably isn't criminal. But the installation of that program is.
Er, I would think it is. So, unfortunately for him, criminal action on two counts, hacking and an illegal surveillance operation. If I came into your business and, unknown to you installed software to surveille your staff and customers, you don't think that would be illegal?
Unfortunately for this guy, though his motives may not have been bad, the law doesn't work like that. IMHO the most he can hope for is leniency in sentencing after conviction.
"The snapping photos probably isn't criminal."
Usually you need a model release form from the person you have snapped in order to use their image. He said he simply got permission from the security guard, the guard is not in a position to grant that privilege. Even as an amateur I have to obtain permission from the owners of any private property I wish to shoot pictures on. So all the tourists you see snapping away down the London Underground are actually in violation of the LT bylaws believe it or not, I know I had to write to obtain permission for my personal amateur snaps.
The guy installed software on a private machine with the express intention of taking pictures without permission! Let me try that, I'll wander into the local Apple store, set up my tripod and SLR, get my laptop out and start snapping! Let's see how many seconds it takes for the security goons to grab me and my kit and a) sling me or more likely b) call the local fuzz have me taken down the local cop-shop!
Probably the surreptitious part, though, is that when we walk into stores and see ourselves on displays, we assume it all is the store's kit. So, these people seemingly had no worries.
That the Secret Service arrived instead of the local police means apple called in the BIG GUNS, knowing this would break into news. Instead of it looking benign and only local cops being involved, the involvement of the SS means hackers and crackers across the USA will take note. Also, even though the FBI might have instead taken the visit task if MacDonald crossed state lines physicall, or only crossed via the Internets, the SS involvement is probably VERY serious.
Either MacDonald's code is in play in other nefarious activities (whether or not he knew) at the hands of others, or he is not forthcoming. Or, a special departmental task force in the Secret Service supersedes many or all others below. Theoretically, if he did this to an airport or transit agency, the DHLS might take the investigaion lead role.
I bet he won't be doing this anymore. It's possible he wasn't the only one but that another player so irked apple that when the saw MacDonald, I am sure they were angry and out for blood, but not likely singing "Oh, MacDonald has a Phorm..."
...but worth a visit from the FBI?
Somehow if a citizen uses a computer for any crime, the maximum sentence goes up.
At the same time, those in power (be it government authorities, or corporate boards) love computers for spying. The rules are incredibly liberal for them to do so.
I'm all for strong laws against computer crime, but this guy clearly isn't doing the same thing as someone hacking into a system and stealing credit card information.
It seems like the FBI would rather go after this guy than people who commit serious crimes.
Those computers are for patrons only to help them decide what they'd like to purchase. Tampering with the machines in an unauthorised capacity is serious enough for someone higher up to get involved, let alone what they'll have to pay for their network usage. I work for a browngoods chain and it pisses me off to no end when "customers" take liberties with the display material. A factory restore that needs to be monitored over half an hour is still ~$50AUD that could be better spent on staff elsewhere. When you're complaining that no one's serving you for your piddly $15 cable, consider as much.
Gizmodo reported that he got permission from the security guard. The help's only technical experience, generally speaking, is converting downloaded internet porn to work on their portable DVD player. It's not informed consent.
As computer crimes go, this is the Apple-stealing kind (heh).
If I was the people at Apple, I would ask for a dollar in symbolic damages. What do they have to gain in asking for more? Or rather, like the guy who sold white iPhones, it will be settled for an undisclosed amount, under condition that he keeps his mouth shut about the fact they did not make him sell his organs in reparation.
Why would you lock down the OS images of computers that you are using as an advert for how nice and easy your OS/hardware platform is? Likewise you wouldn't want to have anything messing with the OS boot because it's likely that potential customers will want to see the machine boot.
I would have thought re-imaging the machines once a week or so would have done the job, with maybe ad-hoc re-images of machines that the potential customers have arsed up.
Coz it is actually part of their job.
From their own website:
Computer Fraud - Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1030, authorizes the Secret Service to investigate computer crimes. Violations enforced under this statute include unauthorized access to protected computers, theft of data such as personal identification used to commit identity theft, denial of service attacks used for extortion or disruption of e-commerce and malware (malicious software) distribution to include viruses intended for financial gain.
I think data for personal identification includes images of people taken without either their knowledge *or the knowledge of the computer's owner* and then sent to an offsite server.
And that's before we include the argument about whether his code is, strictly speaking, malware or not, and before we consider whether these computers should be considered 'protected' by being on Holy Ground.
has a contracted store security guard been the person to ask about permission of this nature... the store manager giving you permission would give you an alibi as they are an officer of Apple corp.
And the bit about photograph permission is very different, to the images collected surreptitiously later on...
This is why the Secret Service becomes involved:
"Since 1984, the Secret Service's investigative responsibilities have expanded to include crimes that involve financial institution fraud, computer and telecommunications fraud, false identification documents, access device fraud, advance fee fraud, electronic funds transfers and money laundering as it relates to the agency's core violations."
"In 2006, the New York Electronic Crimes Task Force merged with the Newark Electronic Crimes Working Group to form the New York/New Jersey Electronic Crimes Task Force. This combined entity enhances cooperation between law enforcement and corporations in the greater New York and New Jersey areas to combat electronic crimes.
Investigations conducted by the U.S. Secret Service through the ECTFs include crimes such as:
Computer generated counterfeit currency
Credit card fraud
Virus and worm proliferation
Access device fraudTelecommunications fraud
Computer system intrusions and cyber-attacks
Assistance with internet related child pornography and exploitation
Terrorism/terrorist financing nexus
Identity theft "
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