"People Staring at Computers by Kyle McDonald “People Staring at Computers” is a photographic intervention. I wrote a simple application that took one picture every minute. If it found a face, it uploaded the photo to my server. I installed the app around NYC over three days, collecting more than a thousand photos. Before sharing the photos online, I decided to exhibit them in the same places they were originally captured. So I wrote another app that could be remotely triggered after being installed on all the computers in one location. When the app starts up, it takes a picture and slowly fades in that photo. A moment later, it starts cycling through older photos. Most people instinctively quit the app less than 10 seconds after recognizing their own face, so the exhibition was relegated to the unused machines.
"Artist Kyle McDonald installed a program on computers in two New York Apple Store locations that automatically takes a photo every minute. Now his personal computers have been confiscated by the U.S. Secret Service. ...
Over the course of the project, McDonald set up roughly 100 Apple store computers to call his servers every minute. That’s a lot of network traffic, and he learned that Apple monitors traffic in its stores when he received a photo from a Cupertino computer of what appeared to be an Apple technician. The technician had apparently traced the traffic to the site McDonald used to upload the program to Apple Store computers — and installed it himself.
McDonald figured that Apple had decided the program wasn’t a big deal. That was until four Secret Service men in suits woke him up on Thursday morning with a search warrant for computer fraud. ...
Before he began, he got permission from Apple’s security guards to take photos in the store, then asked customers if he could take their photos (with a camera). Had they all said no, he says, he wouldn’t have proceeded. He also refrained from putting the code for the photo-taking program online, as he does with most of his projects, because he recognized that the technology behind his art project could be used for less benign purposes. "
Using Apple Store computers to accomplish the photography is a separate issue, and given that the Secret Service’s search warrant was for computer fraud, the use of them is likely the issue in question.
On Thursday, McDonald tweeted that the search warrant said he was in violation of 18 USC section 1030.
Eric Goldman, the director of the High Tech Law Institute and associate professor at Santa Clara Law, says that the law “restricts accessing someone else’s computer and obtaining information from that computer” and that “capturing images from Apple’s computers could trigger that standard.” Some other provisions of the same law could also apply, he says.