Friday, 7 August 2015

We can misrepresent you however we like. Thanks.

It’s been a while due to idiotic levels of busy, but I haven’t abandoned this blog.  It’s mostly that the things happening in the world of privacy and security need more bandwidth than I have right now. And also because as far as I’m aware nobody reads this anyway.

But I’ll keep sending words into /dev/null until it’s full.  Here’s something fairly quick to deal with. I’s a notice found taped to a kiosk on Paddington Station:

what the actual

You wouldn’t be here (assuming anyone is) if you didn’t enjoy a good point-by-point rebuttal so let’s do this old-skool.

First: That’s not a disclaimer. It’s kind of the opposite. I called it a ‘claimer’. The person who took the picture suggested ‘exclaimer’.  But in a way, we’re both wrong. Samsung is trying to disclaim as many of our rights as is possible on one sheet of paper.  It’s just that Samsung is not being remotely honest about what it is disclaiming,

Second: The crossed-out word is “Sunday”. I’m completely bewildered by this. Is there some ultra-Christian sect that believes Sunday is so holy that they can’t allow its name to be written down?  Ridiculously, that is the most plausible explanation I can come up with.

Third: The presentation. We eat delicious, privacy- violating goodness first with our eyes, after all. That bit of emergency tape holding a piece of paper that looks like it was crumpled before it got there… It makes me wonder who put it up and why. Is it some kind of fucking performance art? Which division of such an enormous company, based these days pretty much on how cool stuff looks, decided that this was the best way to spread news?  I’m waiting to find a dirty sock in my garden announcing their next phone in stitching that looks like it’s closing a septic wound.

Fourth: What is “Filming Notice”?  The sign treats it like that’s a thing. “Oh, it’s a Filming Notice, fair enough.” But that isn’t actually a thing, is it? It’s not a thing like Air-raid Warning or a Don’t-Stick-Your-Fingers-In-This-Socket sign, is it? We know what to expect from signs like that, partly because of the use of hilarious pictures of people being struck by lightning or being blown up. We intrinsically understand the possible negative consequences. I don’t think we have the same sort of instinctive reaction to “Filming Notice” and they didn’t even draw a picture of people’s privacy being sucked into a giant conglomerate. That’s an icon I’d definitely enjoy seeing. Personally, I’m picturing maniacal-looking hands (heavy on rings and sharp fingernails) sucking lightning from an engorged brain, but I’ve already been told that sort of thing is exactly why I’m not allowed to design signs.

Fifth: “By your entrance into this area”. OK, this is where it starts to get a bit more complicated. I’m pretty sure that Paddington Station qualifies as a public place and that the conditions associated with entering it are no different to those of any other or at least can’t actually be changed like that on a whim. But nevermind that: there was presumably no way people could have known about their claimed tacit agreement before entering the place.  And no way many people could have avoided the place if they didn’t agree to Samsung’s ‘terms’. If you need to go to Reading then you have greater problems than being filmed, but being subject to the random whims of Samsung shouldn’t have to add to your misery. It’s almost exactly like agreeing on a green card application to be gloated over by Noel Edmonds at the exact moment you reach your lowest ebb.  OK, I’m not very good at analogies.

Sixth: If I’m right that Paddington Station is considered a public place, then it’s totally OK to film people there anyway.  And legal also to use footage of people wandering around there in broadcasts or adverts or other stuff like that. I have reasons to not like it and  that’s an argument for another day. But my point is this: if filming people and using that film as a background to an advert or setting for some other film is what’s going on here, why the warning?

Seven: See above. Why is there a ‘disclaimer’ at all if what they’re doing is take pictures of people in the background? The troubling words are those like “likeness”, “actions” and “appearance”. This suggests that by entering a station – entirely without warning – I’m agreeing that Samsung could publish the pictures it takes of me and attribute made-up sexist, racist or otherwise incorrect quotes to me and I’d have no way to tell them to stop and apologise.  They could insinuate  in public that my “behaviour” is suspicious or questionable in some way and put it in a billboard on that actual station.

What they presumably mean is “we won’t pay you for being in our movie”. But that’s not what they’re saying. If they said that, I’d be cool with it. But they don’t get to bully and threaten me for going about my (for all they know) daily commute..

At least they said thanks.