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This article was published on October 5, 2017

Woman films her internet-connected camera whispering ‘Hola señorita’

Woman films her internet-connected camera whispering ‘Hola señorita’
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Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about his work on Twitter.

This is not an episode of Black Mirror. A couple of months ago, Rilana Hamer from the Netherlands bought a small internet-connected camera from a local convenience store. She wanted to use the device to keep an eye on her puppy while away from the house. But it wasn’t only the puppy that was being watched.

“I thought I was going crazy,” the spooked woman said in a Facebook post. “I suddenly heard sounds in the living room. I walked up there and saw my camera move.”

She had purchased the device at Action – a local discount-chain store that mostly sells low-budget convenience utilities.

You connect it to your Wi-Fi and plug it into your power outlet. With a password on it and a safe installation, I could keep an eye on my house (I hoped). You can operate it on your phone and listen to what’s happening in your home. This was perfect.” (Google-translated passage)

Until it wasn’t.

While the woman initially ignored the tool’s faulty behavior, she was prompted to take a second look after it continued to make noises. This is when she went back to the living room only to find the camera addressing her directly: “Bonjour madame,” it whispered.

Startled by the mysterious voice, Rilana responded: “Hi, is anyone there?” She moved around left and right, and surely the camera followed suit. “Bonjour madame, tout bien avec vous,” the camera murmered again. This is when the woman pulled the plug and shoved the device back in the box.

I was full of fear and thought I was crazy,” Rilana said in a  Facebook post. “I’m being watched, but for how long? What has that person seen from me? My house, my personal possessions…”

Eventually, the woman decided to turn on the camera one more time, armed with her camera phone in hand this time around. This is when the camera hummed creepily, “Hola señorita.” Watch the footage:

DELEN ALSJEBLIEFT!!!!Even dacht ik dat ik gek werd. Ik kom thuis en doe mijn dagelijkse dingen. Boodschappen gedaan en deze even opruimen, zingend door je huis heen.. tot je ineens iets hoort rommelen in de woonkamer. Ik liep de woonkamer in en ik zag mijn camera bewegen. De camera die ik een maand of 2 geleden gekocht heb bij de Action en ik in mijn huis had staan. Je sluit hem aan via je WiFi en doet de stekker in je stopcontact. Met een wachtwoord erop en een veilige installatie, kon ik mijn huisje van binnen in de gaten houden (hoopte ik). Je kan hem bedienen via je telefoon en kunt meeluisteren wat er gebeurd in je huis. Dit was perfect, omdat ik net een pup had die alles op de kop zette. Het meest ideale was daarbij dat je ook kunt praten via de webcam en zo ideaal communiceerde.. maar nu, terug naar mijn verhaal.. De camera ging heen en weer.. mijn telefoon lag op bed en ik had geen idee wat hij deed. Was hij aan het updaten? Prima.. ik draaide me om en ging weer door met uitpakken van mijn boodschappen. Ineens hoor ik gerommel.. word ik nu gek?! Nee.. ik liep erheen, de camera draaide mijn kant op en ik hoorde: “Bounjour madame”. Ik reageerde geshockt: “hallo, is daar iemand?”… ik bewoog naar links en rechts en de camera draaide met mij mee. “Bonjour madame, tout bien avec vous?”Ik rende naar de camera, trok de stekker er uit en gooide hem in een doos.. ik was vol angst en dacht even dat ik gek werd. Ik word bekeken, maar voor hoelang al? Wat heeft die persoon gezien van mij? Mijn huis, mijn persoonlijke bezittingen.. tijdens het eten heb ik dit vol verbazing vertelt tegen een vriendin van mij, die zich afvroeg hoe dit mogelijk was.. we besloten de camera nog 1 keer neer te zetten met de lens naar de muur. Zou er gereageerd worden? Binnen 1 minuut was het raak…- Hello- Do you speak French?Ik: sorry?!- Do you speak French? Ik: no, Englisch!………Ik: What did you do?…- it’d good?Ik: no! Get the fuck out of my house, now!Shut the fuck of!- (geen idee?)Ik; shut the fuck of my house, go away!- hola senorita!Ik; ja, fuck you!- ohhhhhhh suck my dick!We haalden de stekker er uit en deden de camera weer in de doos.. Huilend, van slag..Mijn privacy, mijn huis, mijn persoonlijke spullen en ikzelf… ik ben bang.. doodsbang. Alsjeblieft Action, haal deze camera uit het assortiment.. alsjeblieft..

Posted by Rilana Hamer on Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rilana has since returned the camera to Action, whose technical team is currently performing a more thorough investigation, Dutch news outlet RTL reports.

It is being investigated by the supplier,” Yvette Moll, a spokesperson for Action, confirmed. “The question is whether it’s in the camera or in the wrong use of passwords and WiFi connection. But it’s especially annoying for this woman.”

The camera has been retailing at the store since at least May, with no other similar complaints, according to Moll. “This is the first report and the camera is almost sold out. We have to check what this is about.”

But whatever is going there – it sure doesn’t look good for Action or the camera manufacturer.

This is hardly the first time internet-connected cameras have been caught surreptitiously spying on their owners.

Back in 2016, US-based manufacturer Genesis Toys was accused of distributing toys that secretly recorded every sound they can pick up and later sold it to third-party advertising and marketing firms.

Obviously, things get a bit more troubling when the device is watching and recording your every move. Scary stuff.

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