The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Hidden surveillance recorders all over NYC are tweeting people’s conversations

A woman speaks on the phone in front of screens feeding live broadcast from polling stations via a network of webcams at an election commission situational centre in Moscow March 4, 2012. Vladimir Putin sought a convincing victory in Russia A woman speaks on the phone in front of screens feeding live broadcast from polling stations via a network of webcams at an election commission situational centre in Moscow March 4, 2012. Vladimir Putin sought a convincing victory in Russia's presidential election on Sunday to strengthen his hand in dealing with the biggest opposition protests since he rose to power 12 years ago. Critics question the legitimacy of a vote they say is skewed to help the former KGB spy return to the Kremlin after four years as prime minister, and are threatening to step up protests that began after a disputed parliamentary poll in December. Reuters/Anton Golubev (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR2YTHI  

A pair of artists have hidden recording devices in random public and private places around New York City and have been tweeting people’s private conversations for months as part of an experiment to increase surveillance awareness.

Kyle McDonald and Brian House installed the Wi-Fi-enabled audio recorders in lamps at McDonalds, a library, a bank, Washington Square Park and even a bedroom. The captured audio is then sent to the crowdsourcing Internet marketplace Mechanical Turk, where workers transcribe the conversations and post them on Twitter. They call the project “Conversnitch.”

Many of the bits and pieces of conversations posted are rather harmless.

“Socks, I need socks.”

“No, I don’t follow the weather. You can’t trust what they say.”

Others touch on more private topics.

“I’m not pestering you, hun, I’m just asking why you didn’t get the job!”

“I’m not sure I’m qualified for the new position.”

“What does it mean to deploy one of these in a library, a public square, someone’s bedroom? What kind of power relationship does it set up?” House said in a Wired report. “And what does this stream of tweets mean if it’s not set up by an artist but by the U.S. government?”

The artists have made the Conversnitch source code public, allowing anyone interested to copy the experiment.

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