Dell’s camera-based privacy feature watches you so you won’t be watched

Dell is playing some privacy tricks by introducing smart privacy features to its next generation of machines, the ones with cameras anyway. The technology is meant to keep your sensitive data safe from people trying to snoop over your shoulder or send malevolent messages to your mom when you’re away from your machine.

We’ll see how this all works in a moment, but there’s something to be said for the irony of trading privacy for privacy.

It comes as part of Dell’s announcement of Optimizer – a bunch of hardware-based improvements to performance, battery life, networking and privacy, which will come to workstations, Latitude and OptiPlex machines, and rugged laptops.

Essentially, it is similar to Lenovo’s privacy solution, unveiled at CES 2022, which causes your laptop to send visual cues or activate screen blur when someone is detected looking over your shoulder. It also locks your PC when you go out and dims your screen when you are looking away from it.

Dell’s Smart Privacy works this way too and even adds ExpressSign so you can get back to work when your machine detects your face has returned.

It’s a little difficult for me to parse this somewhat contradictory idea of ​​letting your camera keep an eye on your every move so passersby don’t see your bank details. Biometrics and privacy are a bunch of fish I don’t necessarily want to get into right now, but the irony doesn’t go unnoticed for me.

I think it’s a trade-off that people are willing to make, and it’s going to depend on how sensitive the data you’re working with in public is. Although I imagine most of us will be looking for a way to turn it off by default the second we get our machines.

If it weren’t for the frightening thought that the camera will always be watching, then for the more practical notion that no matter how smart this thing is, I’ll probably end up thinking that the clock on the wall behind me wants to steal my data – that could end up making it harder. life.

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