Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Man Pleads Guilty to Computer Fraud Charge After Spying on Home Security Cameras for Four Years

Salvador Hernandez, Buzzfeed News:

A home security technician admitted Thursday that he secretly accessed the cameras of more than 200 customers, particularly attractive women, to spy on while they undressed, slept, or had sex, federal prosecutors said.

Telesforo Aviles, a 35-year-old former employee for the security company ADT, admitted he secretly accessed the customers’ accounts more than 9,600 times over more than four years, according to a guilty plea submitted in court.

Hernandez did not include copies of those court documents, so I thought I would pull them to see what he plead guilty to. Here’s a shared folder with a handful of key documents in related cases.1 And you know what he plead guilty to in the federal case? Well, you probably do if you read the headline: a single count of computer fraud. He committed privacy violations against hundreds of people — including minors — but the crime he committed was accessing the cameras without permission. That is outrageous.

Some of the women who Aviles spied on attempted to file class action suits in Texas and Florida against ADT. But a judge stayed a case in Florida because ADT has an arbitration clause in its contract. That is, everyone who was affected by this extraordinary breach of trust must individually negotiate a settlement with ADT, after which they will be sworn to confidentiality.

This is a dismal combination of some of the worst attributes of modern life: insecure internet-of-things devices led to intrusion and spying but, because there is no federal privacy law in the United States, the victims are unable to seek relief on those grounds, and any legal standing they do have is subject to negotiation by arbitration.

  1. I tried using iCloud’s folder sharing feature, but it is adamant that you add the folder to your own iCloud account before you can view its contents. Not great. ↩︎