Legal issues with using Augmented Reality for activist purposes

David SargentAugmented Reality0 Comments

My conference presentation at the 2017 CreateWorld Conference was very interesting. The audience asked some really great questions and quite a few people sought me out later to discuss my work. The most popular topic by far was the legalities of using AR in this manner, which to be honest I hadn’t thought about that much.

I use the Layar platform to create augmented advertising takeovers like the video above. After reading the terms and conditions of use it seems I’ve been breaking a whole bunch of them! These kinds of breaches can result in an account being suspended, but could also lead to the original copyright holder (i.e. the publishers of the ad) chasing you in regards to unauthorised use of their property and possibly damages for slander etc. As with all technology, the law takes time to catch up, especially when it is an international issue (i.e. I could augment a billboard on the other side of the world if I wanted to). Personally, I think it would be a public relations nightmare for an organisation to come after someone making comment on body image and the saturation of the ideal body types in advertising.

So, if you were to be using a consumer facing AR package for activist purposes and were concerned about your privacy, I would suggest you consider the following three elements which are required to use the platform:

  1. Internet access
  2. Email address to create your account
  3. Credit Card to publish augmentations

And consider using the following tactics to obscure your identity and location:

  1. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when interacting online
  2. Creating a free unidentified email address like Hotmail / Gmail (other even more secure options detailed here)
  3. Buying and using a prepaid ‘Gift Card’ card which works with Visa and MasterCard systems. The availability of these seems to depend on your location, but in Australia you can purchase these at supermarkets or post offices with cash. They are activated when you buy them (via a fee) and you don’t need to provide any identifying information.

Of course, this is all moot when you post all of your augmentations up on a blog which uses your name as the domain… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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