Images from unsecured HK webcams end up in London art exhibition

Images from unsecured HK webcams end up in London art exhibition

The artist has now agreed to blur the faces of unsuspecting people


People didn’t realise their unsecured webcam images were being taken

The artist behind a controversial exhibition in London, featuring images captured from unsecured webcams, has agreed to cover the faces of the people in the images. This follows reports about the exhibition in the media which caused public uproar.

Earlier this week, the media revealed that uncensored images were being used by artist Nye Thompson for her art exhibition The images were of unsuspecting people in various states of work, play or rest, with their faces clearly visible in the images. Many of the images featured Hongkongers.

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The images were found by bots, which scanned for unsecured webcams around the world, gathered shots of unsuspecting users and placed them onto search engines. The exhibition also includes images from Russia and the US, and was hosted by London Metropolitan University.

The term “backdoor” is based on hacker lingo, meaning a feature or defect within computer hardware or software that allows unauthorised access to data.

“I want to demonstrate how fragile our privacy is in this bold new age of universal connectivity,” Thompson wrote on her website.

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When the images came to the attention of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Stephen Wong Kai-yi, he called for the ­images featuring Hongkongers to be pulled and deleted, citing violations of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. He also contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office last week to express his concerns over the issue.

After the revelation and media inquires, Thompson agreed to obscure the faces of people in the images, and stop selling merchandise, such as limited-edition prints, featuring uncensored pictures. She said she wasn’t looking to make money from them.

Wong and leading cybersecurity experts advised webcam users to set strong passwords for their devices, and put a piece of tape over the lenses when the camera is not in use.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Unsecured webcam images turned into art


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