iSpy?

This is neither theory nor opinion. I am merely recounting an experience for you to ponder.

I had a brief meeting the other day with an acquaintance who holds a fairly high position in local government. Our chat was mostly pleasantries, and so I did not broach the topic that was at the forefront of my mind from the moment I walked into his office: namely, the piece of electrical tape over his monitor’s camera lens.

I don’t know how I noticed it—it was black on black with no contrast in shade or sheen. But there it was. And on the computer of someone who was in a position to be informed as to whether such a thing was merely a penchant of the paranoid or a prerequisite for privacy here in 2019. I try to keep my conspiracy-minded musings on the q.t., so I didn’t ask him his reasons.

For years now I myself have had a piece of tape over the lens of my PC laptop. There is a message that regularly pops up saying “Device Census is using the webcam.” Screw that. They say anything can be fixed with duct tape, and in this case it proved to be true. Besides, I never Skype anyway, so taping up the camera didn’t change my lifestyle at all.

However, I have another device in my life on which the camera does get some use: an iPad. Because I wasn’t getting any definitive message that apps were accessing the camera, because in my Settings I deny that access to any app that wants it, I didn’t duct-tape the lens on that device. But in the back of my mind, I thought it was something I should get around to. The PC is purely for business, but the Apple product follows me into my home and my personal life.

So after that meeting downtown, I purchased a roll of black tape. When I got home, I put a patch over my iPad camera. Then I sat down and followed my evening routine of checking my favorite blogs and such.

What happened next is the point of this piece. The iPad started acting up in a very odd way. Web pages would not load, videos would not play. The little spinning wheel on the status bar just kept grinding away with no progress. The touchscreen stopped responding to my fingers, but only in certain apps, like Safari. I closed out of everything and tried again. That fixed it for a moment, and then the problems began again almost right away. I turned it off completely and restarted. (This usually tames issues of bogginess or spasticity.) Even this didn’t help.

Sometimes when the iPad is acting strange, it means there is a software update waiting to be installed. This also was not the case. It behaved just like a computer running a huge program in the background. My old anti-virus software used to do this while it was running updates: until it finished, the PC keyboard would be logy and it would take forever to download emails or web pages. (“Forever” meaning a minute, and not the several minutes back in the days of dial-up connections. Ah, how quickly our standards change!)

So what huge program was suddenly running in the background of iOS that I had never witnessed before? And why today? I hadn’t downloaded any new apps or changed the settings in any way. I had only stuck a little piece of tape over the front-facing camera. That was the one and only difference.

And then, just as suddenly as the issues started, they stopped. It was like a horse accepting the bit—resisting, resisting, resisting, … and then just giving up and taking it.

What happened?

Could it be that my camera was in fact being remotely accessed? And that when the iPad found itself in use without a picture coming through, this triggered some sort of diagnostic program to gear up and figure out the problem—while claiming every resource of the operating system until there was a resolution? And when the diagnosis came back that it must be a piece of tape, the iPad gave up and accepted the “bit”?

Farfetched? Paranoid? So it seems to me. I am not anyone that bears watching. I am certainly nothing to look at with my clothes off! And I am no subversive or deviant. I am not a criminal or a revolutionary. My thoughtcrimes consist of participating in this blog, which (as we have often said) is no threat to anyone.  Even if I were up to something blackmailable, no blackmailer would get rich off of me!

I would like to think that the spazzing out of my iPad had nothing to do with my blocking the camera, and that it was all just a coincidence. Maybe my iPad simply has a glue allergy! Except it hasn’t sneezed since …

MR

PS–It has been over a week since I wrote this, though I held off on publishing until today.  Since then I have found that my battery life is noticeably better, even though my iPadding habits have changed not a whit.  In other, subtle ways, the device seems to operate more crisply and quickly.  It is very much like having just cleaned a virus off my laptop.

I like to think that I am not quite the paranoiac often found in Truther forums. So I wouldn’t claim I was being actively watched.  But I do wonder now if we are not all subject to a constant passive collection of video data, just as our phone calls and emails seem to be monitored by computers running algorithms to catch items of interest.  That would entail a tremendous commitment of IT resources.  But, hey! … what else are they doing with all that NASA funding?  Shooting rockets to Mars?!?

9 thoughts on “iSpy?

  1. To quote a song by Nirvana, ‘Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.’ (I too have duct tape on my webcam, ecc.)

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  2. Remove the tape. Wait a day or so & cover it again. Experiment. I had my photo file’s emptied 2 twice & 2 cell phones wiped out in a 2 week period a while back.

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  3. Maarten, Timely article for me…I received an interesting call this morning…supposedly AT&T contacting me to tell me that someone was trying to hack my computer and I would need to sit at the computer and follow their instructions to get things right again or they would have to terminate my service for 6 months. I freaked out a bit at first but began to realize it had to be a scam and if I followed their instructions they would most likely really hack me and steal my passwords etc….anyway, I was not yet at the computer and told them to give me an hour and call back….so far there has been no return call. If they do call back I am going to mess with them and tell them that my son is an “intrusion detection” expert (which he really was) for a large corporation and he and I had already examined the internal workings of my computer and the problem had been fixed!!

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  4. “Because I wasn’t getting any definitive message that apps were accessing the camera, because in my Settings I deny that access to any app that wants it,”

    How do you change these settings using a MacBook?

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  5. Thanks Maarten. I am going to try this when we get home. I agree, there are no programs actively monitoring us, as we are too many and mostly wrapped up in sports and entertainment (and porn) anyway. But passive monitoring coupled with data mining could be a factor here. For the record, no one is out to get me. I know this because I went theough the TSAPRE interview and background search, and was approved. There ya go.

    A friend of my son told a story, something that just caught his attention as he is not paranoid either. (Paranoia is a real condition having nothing to do with having an active and suspicious mind. I suspect it is rare.) He was sitting at a bar talking with a friend and they discussed a product, maybe a car or movie, I forget. When he next turned on his iPhone, there sat an ad for that product. If you guage the abilities of the vast swath of the American public, they are severely limited by education, environment, groupthink, news. It’s a vast wilderness. There are no extant threats to anyone in power. There will be no revolution. The only purpose for all of the snooping on us is marketing.

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    1. Suspicious Mind(s)? My favourite Elvis song. We’re caught in a trap…..and we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds…..
      If I take a link from here to youtube, I get all those recommended for you videos which invariably are FE nonsense. What are they selling with that garbage? There must be something else to all these machinations besides profit, when you owe everything, what else is there left for them to have?

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  6. “I keep black tape over my cameras and microphones on my cellphone.
    It can be a real pita when I need to take a quick picture. But you know, I’m not one to allow spying on me without a fight.” — said no one ever.

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