Woman Accuses Dell Tech Support Of Launching Her Webcam Without Permission

I always keep a little sticker over the webcam lens on my netbook when I’m not using it, because I don’t trust that I know enough about computers to be 100% confident my webcam is off when I want it to be off. And if you think that’s being too paranoid, look at what happened to Dianne Annunziato earlier this month when she called a Dell support line for help with her laptop.

“First, the technician started asking me what time of day it was,” she said.

When she looked at her screen a minute later, Annunziato said she could see herself in a little box.

“He turned on the webcam; he never asked, ‘May I? Can I?’ Not a word, he just turned it on,” she said.

According to the local NBC affiliate, Dell says it’s looking into the complaint: “An investigation is currently under way, and the company will administer appropriate action when complete.”

As commenters on the NBC page point out, if you allow a tech support person to remotely access your computer, you’re giving up control over things like webcam operation. Which brings us back to my initial tip: cover it up if you don’t want to risk accidentally showing up on it one day.

Here’s a video clip from a local news segment about the incident.

“Woman Gets Unwanted Peeping During Tech Support Call” [NBCDFW]