The crime of taking secret photos and videos of other people is sadly nothing new, but in the prefecture of Kyoto it appears to be a particularly growing problem. According to the Kyoto Prefectural Police Personal Safety Division, arrests for voyeur recordings are already up 25 percent from last year, and it’s still only October.
As a result, the authorities there have decided to take matters into their own hands with a more pro-active approach. They’ve produced a six-second ad with the simple but strong message: “Voyeurism is a crime. Someone is watching! Punishment will be strict.”
▼ News report about the new ads
The above video is a news report showing the ad, because we couldn’t get a proper video of the warning itself. The reason is that it only appears as an unskippable ad to certain users on YouTube as well as other video streaming sites and social media platforms, targeting males over the age of 18 who have terms such as “peeping” and “small camera” in their search histories.
In other words, those very same dubious targeted advertising practices that infringe on people’s privacies to push goods and services online are now being used against people who would infringe on the privacy of others in the real world.
However, it was this bit of poetic justice that rubbed many netizens the wrong way, and opinions were mixed on whether this was a good idea or a case of two wrongs not making a right.
“So they’re peeping into all our search histories to stop peeping?”
“I get that it’s possible and might even work, but I still don’t like it.”
“This is a terrible idea.”
“I hope this doesn’t get out of hand and they start surveilling people based on search history.”
“Targeted ads should be illegal in the first place.”
“So the police are sponsoring YouTube content now?”
“Isn’t it possible that a lot of normal people are interested in small cameras too?”
“Finally, a good use of targeted ads.”
“I feel like our surveillance society is really coming along.”
“Isn’t it just like those FBI warnings to stop people from copying VHS tapes? Those didn’t stop anything.”
The ads will run until the middle of November, and Katsushi Nishida with the Kyoto Police said, “We want people who see the ad to keep in mind that they will be caught.”
It’s of course hard to gauge how effective the move will be in the end, but it certainly is creepy when your computer seems to know exactly what you’re interested in and up to.
Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko
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