BBC Crimewatch: Coffee Shop Hack


So you walk into a coffee shop and purchase your caffeine addiction to kickstart your day, the same ole', same ole', yawn, ad nauseam. But what if before you even leave the coffee shop your personal information, history and even tightly locked secrets are not only known, but told back to you by the cashier? Scary, right? And this is exactly what happens in a BBC show segment called "Crimewatch - Coffee Shop Hack".

"Go ahead and dig into my info, everyone looks at porn."

The production crew of the series takes hidden cameras to a random coffee shop, has one of its staff pose as the cashier and has other members "working the streets" by luring in potential customers with the offer of free coffee. There is a catch, however; the new customers must "like" the coffee shop's Facebook page. With all the cell phones and laptops that go through a coffee shop on any given day, this easily achieved task is a no-brainer. Many have done worse for a cup of free and fresh Joe. And what's the harm? There's no obligation to buy anything further, no sign-up fees or hidden charges, just a click on the ole' Facebook "Thumbs-up" icon – and make mine a double/ double, thank you very much. But wait, there's a surprise lurking underneath in the basement.

That surprise is Cal Leeming, Great Britain's youngest convicted hacker - for those of you hiding under an Internet rock. Now a cyber security advisor with a reputation for his brutal honesty and balls-to-the-wall approach, Cal is on his laptop in this episode, doing what he does best: hacking into our lives without us knowing.

"What’s most startling, and funny, is not the customers that are shocked by the revelations, but those that are indifferent."

So the unsuspecting customer goes in for his or her injection of java, likes the shop on their electronic soothers and prepares for the rest of the day. Not so fast. Cal and his associate quickly gather information about each customer which they relay via audio into a hidden earpiece to the "cashier". The cashier then drops a trivia bomb on each customer. What's most startling, and funny, is not the customers that are shocked by the revelations, but those that are indifferent. Almost as if they're expecting it.

While the show is interesting and somewhat revealing – not to mention subversive and crafty, it's length is so scant that there's not enough meat for the viewer to chew on. Attention spans may have shrunk like genitalia in the Arctic, but this piece definitely leaves the viewer wanting more. Is the BBC going soft? Or going broke?

The lesson to be learned here is that it's time we as a society pulled our lips off of the social media teat. Talk to that person beside you on the bus seat, don't text them. And those 600 "friends" on Facebook and Twitter are not your friends. You haven't even met most of them. And maybe it's time to switch to green tea instead of coffee.

Written by John Turnbull