If I’m worried about someone spying on me through my Mac’s built-in iSight camera, does that make me a little paranoid? Here’s the deal. If everyone is out to get you, paranoia is the right attitude to have. Is everyone out to get you? Or, at least, is there someone trying to spy on you through your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or even a television camera?
I say ‘Yes.’
To prove the point that a bit of paranoia is a good thing, I have a Vizio television, an excellent value that I picked up from Costco a few years ago. Guess what? My paranoia is justified thanks to Vizio’s admission that it has spied on almost every television viewing customer for years.
The TV maker has agreed to stop spying and pay a multi-million dollar fine. Were they using a built-in TV camera? Maybe not. But they did manage to capture everything Vizio’s customers watched– cable TV, streaming videos, DVD players, OTA. They captured the whole shebang starting about three years ago. Date. Time. Channel. Live or recorded. They got it all.
Not long ago F.B.I. Director James Comey admitted he puts a piece of tape over the camera on his personal computer. Why?
I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.
That somebody smarter probably was Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg who would have known better than to release an non-issue but highly damning message about a presidential candidate days before a nationwide election which was won by the opposing candidate by a few tens of thousands of votes, but that’s another issue.
Why do Zuckerberg and other notable and important people block their computer’s built-in camera? Why does Amazon sell packets of stickers for use on iPad, iPhones, smartphones, and tablets? Is it to feed on paranoia? Or, is it the admission that a touch of paranoia is a good thing in a world run amok with hackers, criminals, and government spooks who have little else to do but spy on citizens?
For what it’s worth, experts in such shenanigans tell us it’s not easy for the aforementioned deplorables to access our Macs and PCs, let alone iPhones and iPads, to take over the camera and watch the inside of a pocket or a ceiling or the blemishes on a face staring into a screen, but it could happen, and that means it does happen, and that means you might just show up on a YouTube video produced in Russia and be told to vote a certain way or else the video gets released to the public.
It could happen. If Obama is a Muslim, and about one in four believe that to be true despite absolutely zero evidence to support it, then couldn’t President Trump be a Russian spy (and there might be evidence to support that)? Sure. Why not?
And if either one of those could be true, then couldn’t your Mac, iPhone, and iPad cameras be used to spy on you, gather incriminating information, and under threat from Russian spies, blackmail you into doing their bidding?
It could happen. Maybe it already has. After all, hasn’t your neighbor been acting a bit odd recently?