Woman accuses Dell tech of being a peeping Tom

According to NBC News, Dianne Annunziato, a woman from North Richland Hills, is accusing a Dell Tech Support technician from India of being a peeping Tom. According to the woman, while on a tech support call, the guy at the other end decided to turn on her webcam without asking her permission. Suddenly, in the middle of the call, the woman saw herself in a tiny box on the screen and realized what was going on.

The woman says that "First, the technician started asking me what time of day it was." Then, she claims that a minute later, she could see herself on the screen. She says that "He turned on the webcam; he never asked, 'May I? Can I?' Not a word, he just turned it on."

Dell has apologized and is apparently looking into the incident saying that "An investigation is currently under way, and the company will administer the appropriate action when complete." However, not everyone at Dell seemed to take Annunziato so seriously. She claims that once she realized what was going on, she asked to speak with the technician's supervisor. She explained to the man that she could have been sitting in front of the computer naked. According to her, the supervisor began laughing. No one at Dell seemed to take her seriously enough to investigate at first--at least not until she called NBC about it. She feels that if such an invasion of privacy could happen to her, imagine how many other people it must happen to.

Here's a video of the news report:

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99 Comments

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i aint surprised that dell did that as they have stupid techs as i would trust my tech experience over theres anyday and the guy who turned on the webcam should be fired and given a short computer exile so he cant use it for awhile and can't do tech support for say 5 years.

Dell should put a LED next to their webcam, when webcam is ON, the LED should also light up.

-1 for Dell
+ 1 for HP laptop :p

btw, why would one sit naked infront of a desktop/laptop? :rofl:

san.W10 said,
Dell should put a LED next to their webcam, when webcam is ON, the LED should also light up.

-1 for Dell
+ 1 for HP laptop :p

My Dell laptop does that too.

I don't care what the Dell tech did.. I assume they have monitoring software to see if he did it, so I have no worries.. the Issue is the supervisor in my mind.

I am suprised there are a lot of people who instantly believe her.
I am not saying I am siding with Dell here, but until I get all the facts from the horses mouth, then I won't believe anyone.

Sometimes people are too trusting :P

Mr Spoon said,
I am suprised there are a lot of people who instantly believe her.
I am not saying I am siding with Dell here, but until I get all the facts from the horses mouth, then I won't believe anyone.

Sometimes people are too trusting :P


This is one of those rare times where i'm sitting on the fence waiting to see what the investigation brings up.

Surprised she got that far. I only get as far as speaking to some Indian guy called "Bob" who reads off a screen then asks me if there is anything more he can do to help before telling me to enjoy the rest of the day.

I made a wild guess about you but looks like you are not from the US.

So how do you think people discriminated some other people purely based on their race?

Nah UK based here.
Comments like this "Poor guy, he only wanted to find out what women look like in real life. Until now, what's hidden behind a sari or burka was a mistery to him :P" i find in very poor taste, i'm no saint and often giggle at a racial joke but it seems there are a lot of very dumb people here.

I am not sure if I would consider those remarks as racist. One of them is definately just a result of ignorance since muslims are merely a minority in India.

I think people may feel uncomfortable with certain culture or may make fun of a culture because they find it primitive, alen or incomprehensible, and that is very human.

And believe me, there are a lot of people in the middle east and in the rest of continent Asia who make fun of Western culture themselves.

Saying black people are inferior because their race is closer to apes in evolution, therefore they should be treated accordingly; now, that is what I call racist.

Edited by Atrius, Jan 27 2010, 10:47am :

ricknl said,
I am not sure if I would consider those remarks as racist. One of them is definately just a result of ignorance since muslims are merely a minority in India.

I think people may feel uncomfortable with certain culture or may make fun of a culture because they find it primitive, alen or incomprehensible, and that is very human.

And believe me, there are a lot of people in the middle east and in the rest of continent Asia who make fun of Western culture themselves.

Saying black people are inferior because their race is closer to apes in evolution, therefore they should be treated accordingly; now, that is what I call racist.

Agreed, but i also think that saying someone has just wanted to see a woman because they haven't before because of their race... is ... well a racial slur is it not?

She had her 15 minutes of fame. There are chat and call logs but no logs for mouse clicks and key strokes. So nothing can be proved. Case dismissed.

The woman says that "First, the technician started asking me what time of day it was."

...in India..that really means.."what are you wearing"

Why would she ever want to contact NBC in the first place? Lol....looks like she wants some 20mins to fame! hahaaa

First thing I do with a new laptop, is to shelf the hard drive that comes with a new laptop (for warranty) and put in a new one. I don't have much use for a webcam, so I keep a tiny piece of black electrical tape over the webcam.


I've seen something similar..with my Thinkpad while browsing Lenovo's site there's a section where you can go into a virtual showroom and look at all their products...and while I was in there I suddenly heard a guy laughing through my speakers while I was looking around...and I was chatting to the wife...then the guy said sorry he thought I needed tech support and he was a Lenovo call rep.. wierd...he heard me talking cause he spoke back to me...the damn thing is I left the tab open in firefox for sometime before he spoke....so who knows what he was listening too. :\ sneaky I.T.....looks like Dell has a similar setup.

Are you serious? Unless you accidentally started a support session through the site then this shouldn't have happened unless you agreed to the connection. Please post the site URL so that others can investigate this.

Also, most Dell laptops have a built-in webcam. I wouldn't put it pass a Dell Tech making 3 cents an hour in India from getting curious and turning on the camera software. He didn't do anything fancy to do this. If they had a remote desktop session activated to troubleshoot her problem then it's just like opening any other application from the windows menu.


Here's the Virtual Show Room Link:

http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/na/LenovoPortal/en_US/special-offers.workflow:ShowPromo?LandingPage=/All/US/Sitelets/eLounge/welcome

On the site you see you can talk live with a Lenovo Rep...but I didn't initiate the conversation....I was just looking at the computers etc...but it seems they activated my Mic and Speakers. The ShowRoom does need to install a browser add-on so you can get inside to use it but I wasn't expecting that part..lol This happened last year summer one night.


Talk to a virtual product specialist.

anyone with a good lie can make it on to American television. the part about possibly being nude on a webcam being controlled by a 3rd party is what got her airtime on NBC.

it is not mentioned how the tech turned on the camera, if that is the case at all. i am pretty sure something like AIM could activate the camera if settings are backed down. it could have been an accidental double click on what is definitely a very laggy remote connection, considering the tech is in India and the women is in America. it could have been malware. it could have been the (unattractive btw) lady herself. anything the tech saw literally would have been a slide show considering it was done over a remote control app.

btw, a small piece of electrical tape put over the webcam part of the laptop's lid takes care of any fear of people seeing you via the webcam. i recommend anyone who uses a laptop with a built-in webcam, especially while nude, do this.

Madoshi said,

btw, a small piece of electrical tape put over the webcam part of the laptop's lid takes care of any fear of people seeing you via the webcam. i recommend anyone who uses a laptop with a built-in webcam, especially while nude, do this.

Putting tape or anything else would work. That's not the point though. People shouldn't have to get paranoid and cover up their cameras all the time.

Yeah give the guy a break she is sacred over there in India...imagine that they place machines to see your genitals in the airport but they focused on an web-cam peep...hum interesting how media invest time in this (obviously I didn't watch the video)...it reminded me the wise words of Lenny in RocknRolla about the people who read newspapers.

You know...i use a Dell XPS M1330, its the only Dell i have. Their support for that has been excellent (replaced a GFX card immediately ect ect.)

I have my reservations about this woman's claims, espcially since i know that the quick cam software can be accessed on "Function keys" on the newer dell's which come with "Dell Media Center". Is seems possible she pressed that.

It doesn't matter if breasts were visible or not, the outsourced "tech" violated her privacy by not asking for permission to test the webcam.

are you seriously saying, don't make calls naked? or dont sit at the PC in a towel...
i think people should be able to do as they please in their own home
now if the call was about remotely fixing her webcam, thats obv different

artfuldodga said,
are you seriously saying, don't make calls naked? or dont sit at the PC in a towel...
i think people should be able to do as they please in their own home
now if the call was about remotely fixing her webcam, thats obv different
Finally a sane comment. So many Dell apologists here. It's of course up to her how to sit in front of her computer when receiving tech support, and she shouldn't avoid support if she just came out of the shower and had something go wrong. Jesus christ the idiocy.

Isn't this is the same woman who spilled McDonald's coffee you know where? I thought she already got enough money!

Andrey said,
Isn't this is the same woman who spilled McDonald's coffee you know where? I thought she already got enough money!

That was a woman with the last name Liebeck.

The woman is probably telling lies (we all know how some women do that, specially some that wear too much make-up!) and she most probably started the software herself without realizing.

The fact is, there is no way to prove it one way, or the other. Case dismissed!

TonyLock said,
The woman is probably telling lies (we all know how some women do that, specially some that wear too much make-up!) and she most probably started the software herself without realizing.

The fact is, there is no way to prove it one way, or the other. Case dismissed!

All calls, web chats etc are logged. They'll find out.

TonyLock said,
The woman is probably telling lies (we all know how some women do that, specially some that wear too much make-up!) and she most probably started the software herself without realizing.

The fact is, there is no way to prove it onay, or the other. Case dismissed!

That strikes me as being a rather foolish statement to make without any substantiating evidence to back it up. How in the hell would the amount of makeup that the woman wore have made a shred of difference we the guy is talking to her on the phone? He wouldn't even have seen it before the webcam was turned on. No offense, but some of you Arabic/Muslim guys seem to have a rather low opinion of women.

Edited by Subject Delta, Jan 27 2010, 3:34am :

Frank Fontaine said,
No offense, but some of you Arabic/Muslim guys seem to have a rather low opinion of women.

And how do you know the person you speak to is a Muslim? I feel exactly the same way and I am so far from being a Muslim you would not believe it. He judged her to possibly be a moron by her looks - so did I. You judged him to be a Muslim by his comment? I would have found that very offending. And I never get offended.
Some of us actually feel that women and men alike are mostly prettier Au naturel. At least excessive use of make-up never looks good.
Not that TonyLock was right about there being no way to prove it though.

TonyLock said,
The woman is probably telling lies (we all know how some women do that, specially some that wear too much make-up!)

Just by saying that, you are a complete idiot. Case dismissed!

Yakuzing said,

And how do you know the person you speak to is a Muslim? I feel exactly the same way and I am so far from being a Muslim you would not believe it. He judged her to possibly be a moron by her looks - so did I. You judged him to be a Muslim by his comment? I would have found that very offending. And I never get offended.
Some of us actually feel that women and men alike are mostly prettier Au naturel. At least excessive use of make-up never looks good.
Not that TonyLock was right about there being no way to prove it though.

Because hes stated a few times in the forums that he is a muslim, so........

and what about if user is complaining about "broken" web cam, when techie just checked and found out it's working? :P

As a former Dell tech, I have had to troubleshoot people's webcams before, but by no means should it be turned on without the client's permission. The agent should be fired however the issue is, that I believe most of Dell's tech support is now outsourced from America/Canada to India, and the Philippines, so they may keep the person on. Its not really under Dell's control.

skitch said,
Its not really under Dell's control.

Lol, Dell's tech support is not their control? Nevertheless, slapped wrists all round and a formal apology, and that will be the end of it no doubt.

Fish said,

Lol, Dell's tech support is not their control? Nevertheless, slapped wrists all round and a formal apology, and that will be the end of it no doubt.

No, it's not under their control. How are Dell supposed to control their tech support? Supervisors watching each of them over their shoulders? Dell is however *responsible* for their actions, but that is not even the same thing.

redvamp128 said,
Dell should probably after this incident update their software to remove the ability for the web-cam to be turned on remotely.

That's what I was thinking but if they are basically remote desktoping in..... how do you stop that? Unless its a custom (aka pos) dell application.

Just fire the idiot and the supervisor. There is no reason he should have done it and the supervisor should have taken it more seriously. End of story.

nubs said,
Just fire the idiot and the supervisor. There is no reason he should have done it and the supervisor should have taken it more seriously. End of story.

Her word vs their word. Without an investigation then it would be silly to just fire them.

Swiftie said,

Her word vs their word. Without an investigation then it would be silly to just fire them.

Investigate? Yeah. Her word vs theirs? No. All calls, web chats, etc are logged. They'll have a copy of it. After the investigation, they'll see. Not something that the average person is going to just make up. Of course you never know with some people so we'll just have to wait and see.

dogmai said,

Investigate? Yeah. Her word vs theirs? No. All calls, web chats, etc are logged. They'll have a copy of it. After the investigation, they'll see. Not something that the average person is going to just make up. Of course you never know with some people so we'll just have to wait and see.

Who said she made it up? For all we know she could be just too dumb to realize that she accidentally turned it on herself and was just paranoid that someone was watching her. There's no information available to backup this woman's background. She could be extremely smart and a computer engineer, but considering she was calling tech support for what doesn't seem like it would've been a hardware issue (her laptop was on and functioning after all) tells us she may not know much about working with software and may have done something to start it up by accident by herself not knowing it.

That being said though. This is the reason I don't trust OEM computers anymore. If I ever buy one I immediately format it with my own OS disc and I do not reinstall any OEM software.

nubs said,
Just fire the idiot and the supervisor. There is no reason he should have done it and the supervisor should have taken it more seriously. End of story.

Firing someone without an investigation admits that something did happen which then opens the door for a lawsuit. Never admit blame unless you are 100% sure because things can get ugly, people loose their jobs, companies get sued, etc etc

nevann said,
Meh, don't leave the webcam facing you when you're not using it

If it's built into a laptop, kind of hard to move the cam away.

xiphi said,

If it's built into a laptop, kind of hard to move the cam away.

Most built in laptop webcams I've come across can be rotated

akav0id said,

Most built in laptop webcams I've come across can be rotated

really?
I've had several top range laptops and i've never had one that rotates!
I'm jealous now!

Edited by MikeChipshop, Jan 27 2010, 1:02am : illiteracy

Mike Chipshop said,

really?
I've had several top range laptops and i've never had one that rotates!
I'm jealous now!

Since they have started putting them on Laptops you can push them up and down to center them. But the thing to do is to put a piece of tape over your camera if you are really paranoid about people watching you, especially if you are on a call where your computer is being controlled by someone else.

Edited by waldenasta, Jan 27 2010, 1:47am :

akav0id said,

Most built in laptop webcams I've come across can be rotated

Actually, most of the thin laptops these days have nonrotatable webcams.

akav0id said,

Most built in laptop webcams I've come across can be rotated

Like what, the only ones I can think of are the Dell XPS M1210 and some Asus's.

Mike Chipshop said,

really?
I've had several top range laptops and i've never had one that rotates!
I'm jealous now!

My Acer Aspire 5610z has a rotatable webcam. I've disabled the drivers since I use a Quickcam Pro 9000 anyway.

nevann said,
Meh, don't leave the webcam facing you when you're not using it

The majority of laptops hasn't a rotatable camera (HP Pavillion, DELL Studio etc). So sitting in front of a webcam is inevitable... And it is not handy to put a paper on it :P

waldenasta said,

Since they have started putting them on Laptops you can push them up and down to center them. But the thing to do is to put a piece of tape over your camera if you are really paranoid about people watching you, especially if you are on a call where your computer is being controlled by someone else.


I don't understand why this is even discussed.

You shouldn't have to be paranoid about your computer to avoid spying from tech support personell. It's as simple as that. Yes, being paranoid would have solved this problem, but the problem here is that you would have to show paranoia to not be exposed without knowing it. WTF.

Northgrove said,

I don't understand why this is even discussed.

You shouldn't have to be paranoid about your computer to avoid spying from tech support personell. It's as simple as that. Yes, being paranoid would have solved this problem, but the problem here is that you would have to show paranoia to not be exposed without knowing it. WTF.

You are right. People don't need to be worried about being "watched" by their own webcams!

That Tech Support guy should have asked for permission to turn on the webcam first. People are dressed comfortably in their houses. Being in boxers and underwear is not uncommon. For a man this may not be a big deal, but for a woman, it sure will be.

xiphi said,

If it's built into a laptop, kind of hard to move the cam away.
Laptop web cams must have hardware ON/OFF switch (or lid) build-in just like Wi-Fi card. It must be a standard.

Certainly possible if Dell's tech support software is installed. Otherwise, how would they tech do that? Jury is out on this one until Dell "investigates".

Sounds like a beatup to me, just another yankie trying to get compensation for no reason.

As if she would be sitting naked in front of the computer when she called up for tech support - maybe in her warped fantasies, but that'd be all.

dvb2000 said,
Sounds like a beatup to me, just another yankie trying to get compensation for no reason.

As if she would be sitting naked in front of the computer when she called up for tech support - maybe in her warped fantasies, but that'd be all.

Uh, why does it sound like that? It would take quite an imagination to think up something like this, and I also doubt Dell would investigate if they were certain it hadn't happened / couldn't happen.

As for sitting naked in front of the computer, I'm sometimes not well dressed at least, and I'm sure few women wouldn't like to have the tech support see them in a bra either, when not expecting it.

Edited by Northgrove, Jan 27 2010, 10:34am :

nytiger73 said,
Certainly possible if Dell's tech support software is installed. Otherwise, how would they tech do that?

Most remote tech support call now involved the tech taking control of the PC with software like LogMeIn. They ask customer to go to a certain website, download a client applet and that is it. Turning on the webcam after that is kid play.

Edited by Captain555, Jan 27 2010, 3:30pm :

dvb2000 said,
Sounds like a beatup to me, just another yankie trying to get compensation for no reason.


Yankee? Let me guess you're from jolly ole England, eh mate?