Mac Photo Project Lands Artist in Legal Hot Water

New York artist Kyle McDonald found himself in potential legal hot water when U.S. Secret Service agents confiscated his computers after he set up an art project that snapped photos of customers in Apple retail stores. The photos were captured with Apple’s own display computers with a little help from an application Mr. McDonald installed on the Macs, according to Mashable.

Mr. McDonald installed an application on several demo Macs in New York City Apple Stores on several different dates and snapped photos of customers looking at the machines using the computer’s built-in camera. The app then sent the photos to Mr. McDonald, and several ended up on a Web site he built to show off his work.

Photo from peoplestaringatcomputers.comOne of many images that appeared on the People Staring at Computers Web site

An Apple technician tracked down where the images were being transmitted, and that led to Secret Service agents showing up at Mr. McDonald’s residence with a search warrant Thursday morning. The confiscated his personal computers as part of a computer fraud investigation, which apparently falls under the Secret Service’s jurisdiction instead of the FBI.

Mr. McDonald doesn’t think he broke any laws, although the Secret Service investigation may say otherwise. “My main thought is that I’d rather spend my time and money making new work rather than dealing with a computer fraud investigation,” he said.

The agents told Mr. McDonald to expect Apple to be contacting him, although it doesn’t appear that they have as of yet.

Apple has not commented on the incident.