Do You Cover Your Webcam Lens With a Sticky Note?

There is a certain practice, born, perhaps, of obsolete data and just plain paranoia. People place a sticky note over their Mac’s webcam when not in use. Is this a valid, efficacious practice? There are even commercial products that have a nicer look to them. John Gruber digs into the practice and the technology both old and new. There’s a lot to learn in this column by John. Check it out.

Check It Out: Do You Cover Your Webcam Lens With a Sticky Note?

6 thoughts on “Do You Cover Your Webcam Lens With a Sticky Note?

  • One problem with Apple’s permission model is that you grant camera permission to the entire web browser. I’m careful to set browser privacy settings as strict as possible (e.g. deny camera/mic access to all sites by default) but there are no guarantees that they won’t be reset somehow in a browser update, potentially allowing any web site to access the camera.

    1. Safari may do well with regard to limiting camera/mic access by default, but I’ve definitely had various privacy settings reset or changed after updating Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. Also there is no indicator light for the microphone.

  • 1. Unlike Mr. Gruber, I’ve seen several people tape their phone cameras, since phone cameras don’t have indicator LEDs. It’s a sensible idea. It’s also not logical to say that ignoring phone camera security means you should ignore webcam security as well.
    2. I’ve seen demos of turning on the camera on Dell laptops without turning on the LED. 🙁
    3. By the time the LED turns on, it can be too late to prevent photos or video from being captured or uploaded. If you make the mistake of giving a web browser camera access (for example for several web-based video conferencing services), good luck!
    4. As Mr. Gruber notes, you may not notice the LED turning on for a fraction of a second while the camera snaps a still photo.

  • Thanks to Mr. Gruber for telling me that I have a little light next to the camera lens on my Macbook Pro, because I have never seen a light next to the camera lens when the camea is running. I guess Apple must have forgotten to install it when the computer was assembled, huh? I have a 15″ mid-2014 machine and it’s running Maverick.

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