This article contains graphic images that some readers may find unsuitable.
In a move as close to the movie Hackers as it gets without breaking international telecommunications laws, last night a New York City graffiti artist accessed one of the city's new free wi-fi terminals, giving passersby an eyeful of decidedly not safe for work content. In the midst of playing Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, KATSU spoke exclusively to The Creators Project about the exploit:
"The city’s doing this funky-ass pilot program to put in these wi-fi terminals—basically like pay phones from the future. Originally I thought it was just a wi-fi station with USB charging, and then today I’m walking by and some homeless guy is like slumped over it, surfing the web at hamster speed. I’m like, no fucking way. I walked by the terminals later on, on Third Avenue, and I’m like, this cannot be real.
"They definitely have keywords blocked out, like PornHub and those places, but I start searching and I’m like, holy shit I can still do full-fledged Google Image searches for rowdy ass shit. So there’s like crowds of people walking by and I’m looking at galleries of dead insurgents, and pulling up pretty aggressive pornography, and then I’m displaying images of my tags zoomed up, and stepping back, and people are just walking by gazing at them, a bit confused as to why there are big 'KATSU BTM' tags glowing out of these weird-ass giant iPhones."
"It’s just kind of a funky and not-so-thought-out installation of high tech stuff in public. I think some pretty cool things can come out of it—if hackers haven’t already gotten into it—but the simple hack of browsing extremely inappropriate visual content, like, leaving it on display and watching people stare at it in disgust, is a fun first start," KATSU explains.
No stranger to daring feats of technovandalism, KATSU previously came to viral acclaim for 3D printing crack cocaine, a (literal) shit painting of Mark Zuckerberg, and originating drone graffiti, which inaugurated on the unwitting face of Kendall Jenner. Above all, KATSU seems most interested in the applications (and misappropriations) of new technologies in the public sphere. "[The new wi-fi terminals] raise a bunch of questions about the internet-as-public payphone, and also the use of these terminals; what their plans are and what they’re thinking. There’s a forward-facing camera on their tablets and I’m guaranteeing that they—sorry, I was just shooting a guy on a roof—I guarantee that they’re doing some funky thumb printing," KATSU continues.
"They can create an identifier for each individual, and then anywhere you walk past one of these wi-fi towers, or a subway station, or a garbage can that’s potentially sniffing for this fingerprint, they can start to paint a real-time picture of where you are. Which is a little bit freaky in that, at any given time, they can hone in and track your foot traffic through the city. Then, of course, pair that with a Metro Card swipe, or a debit card use, or even cell towers, you’re pretty much fucked."
UPDATE: Read Link.NYC's comments on KATSU's action below:
“LinkNYC strives to maintain a safe environment while still balancing free and open internet access. Link tablets use a DNS content filtering system that blocks domains known to contain adult or inappropriate content – the same system used by thousands of public schools and libraries across the country.
“This morning, SafeSearch settings were turned on across all Link tablets system wide. While no content filtering system will ever be perfect, we will continue to fine-tune LinkNYC’s settings and controls on the public tablet. In addition, Link tablets timeout after a short period of inactivity, preventing any inappropriate content not caught by our filtering system from staying on screen for any extended period of time.”