March 21, 2005

Who Has This Phone Now?

chan640_1050M20050117T205554.jpgSteve Chan, a SIMS graduate student at UC Berkeley, was in Thailand over the winter break and lost his Nokia 7610... his wife left it behind in a cab. This phone is part of a group of phones that are part of a photo metadata project organized by Marc Davis and Nancy Van House at SIMS. Software was installed in all the 7610's, called MMM-2. It organizes metadata for photos taken with the phone around the content and implied context of the photo, and the social community around the photos, either with respect to the bluetooth devices nearby or for sharing photos.

The phone has been in use by some other party, taking these two photos... the first uploaded in January, and the second two weeks ago. The MMM software uploads photos automatically, unbeknownst to the current user of the phone. Steve has tried to call the phone several times, the calls go unanswered or are hung up on, and he doesn't have much information about who has the phone, except from these two pictures and the metadata MSS collects around them. And since the user of the phone 'found it' I'm thinking about what are the ethics around posting these photos. One thing I'm thinking about is that the first photo appears to be a child, though may be a small woman and involving her causes me to question posting it, even though I was given permission to do so by people running the metadata program, and Steve emailed a bit more information, implying his permission as well. Of course, I want to help Steve, and think about this problem, but what about this? What does it mean to post a photo of a young child in order to ask for information? On the other hand, the child's photo may be more closely tied to the current user of the phone than the second, with the two adults.

So, do you know these people .. which might give some clue about who has this phone? If so, leave a comment or email Steve.


Posted by Mary Hodder at March 21, 2005 07:26 AM | TrackBack

If they are under age (or we suspect so) children's privacy should prevail. Blur their faces and/or contact the Thai authorities.

Posted by: Ivan at March 21, 2005 10:18 AM

Someone connected with the MMM project let me know that they believe this is a young woman, and so therefore, they believe it's okay to post. But you bring up a good point. Also, my understanding is that the Thai authorities have been contacted.

Posted by: mary hodder at March 21, 2005 11:06 AM

When in doubt "they believe this is a young woman" we should try to protect the unprotected. I couldn't assure that the 3 girls are over 18. The 2 girls in the second photo seem to be wearing some secondary school uniform.

Any material obtained this way shouldn't be published (child or adult). IMHO.

Posted by: Ivan at March 21, 2005 01:36 PM

These seem pretty clearly to be under 18yo school children. I agree their privacy should be protected.

Posted by: Ron at March 23, 2005 06:16 AM

This is such a wonderful mystery. I see no problem in posting the photos - they haven't tried to return the phone, right? In fact they've avoided it.

Posted by: David Jacobs at April 1, 2005 01:59 PM