Peeping Toms on Your Laptop: Women's Privacy Undressed By Spyware
FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.
We all have heard about how privacy can be compromised in the new high-tech world. But the level to which people can be "undressed" continues to cause amazement.
As recently reported in FindLaw's Legally Weird, for instance, a computer repairman in California was arrested recently on suspicion of installing spyware on laptops that gave him the ability to take and download photographs of women taking off their clothes, showering and other highly private home activities.
This came to the attention of law enforcement authorities when someone reported unusual messages showing up on his daughter's computer.
Apparently, the repairman had installed software that could take charge of webcams on Mac laptops. The software then would send supposed error messages that would instruct the user to fix the internal sensor, to try to put the laptop near hot steam to clean the sensor, and even to take the laptop to the bathroom during showering.
While these instructions seem bizarre, presumably many people followed them. Indeed, press reports indicate that the repairman snapped and downloaded hundreds of still images and videos of women undressing, showering, and changing clothes.
The repairman reportedly faces various felony counts relating to unauthorized computer access and fraud. Obviously, to the extent he actually engaged in the alleged conduct, he could be in serious trouble. And it would be too bad that he did not use tech talents in a socially acceptable and productive manner.
Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP (http://www.duanemorris.com) where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is http://www.sinrodlaw.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.
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