Thanks to the Bush administration and one Will Smith movie, we all have a fairly justifiable fear of government surveillance. But it turns out you should be just as paranoid about your boss, your overly affectionate uncle and that stuttering blinky guy who lingers by your garbage cans on trash days. Because thanks to modern technology, the details of your life are openly accessible to pretty much anybody who wants them.
5Tracking Your Movements
Imagine it's Saturday night and you're doing your usual Saturday night thing, when your webcam secretly clicks on. And somewhere, somebody starts watching you while you wipe Dorito dusted fingers on your whitey tighties and bob your head to Nickelback. They could be secretly uploading videos of you on to YouTube, taking notes for anthropological purposes or, if you're lucky, masturbating.
And you'd never even know they're there.
By now you've almost certainly heard about that high school in Pennsylvania that got in trouble for issuing its students laptops, and then spying on them in their bedrooms, remotely, by controlling their webcams.
We're going to bet that, before that story broke, you didn't know there was even such a thing as turning on somebody else's webcam against their will from across town. And maybe you thought the school had done some weird modification to the laptops, and that it was just an isolated incident by a somewhat insane school district.
Class outside? What the fuck is going on here?
The truth is, it took basically no effort on their part. All sorts of programs are available to let you remotely commandeer a webcam, and many of them are free. Simple versions will just take photos or videos when they detect movement, but more complex software will send you an e-mail when the computer you've installed the program on is in use, so you can immediately login and control the webcam without the hassle of having to stare at an empty room until the person you're stalking shows up. Convenient!
Leaving creeps free time to work on their Harry Potter/Starfox slash fiction.
One of the creepier uses of this technology came back in 2008, when a University of Florida student, who was known for helpfully fixing the computer problems of strangers, not so helpfully installed programs onto some of the computers he repaired so he could use the webcam to capture nude pictures of the girls who owned them.
This is a sad example of what would be hilarious in a wacky college movie being disturbing in real life, and we also have to wonder how someone that proficient with computers was unaware you could find plenty of naked women on the Internet in roughly three seconds.