Police in Tokyo, Japan, have arrested a man for allegedly assaulting a woman after he tracked her down using the reflections in her own selfies.
The 26-year-old man was charged with injury caused by forcible indecency after the alleged assault, and the case has sparked discussion in Japan about the risks of fame in today’s digital age, where it seems almost anything is possible online.
As per CBS News, the suspect told authorities he determined his victim’s location by poring through photos and selfies of the woman, and analysing the scenery reflected in her eyes.
According to the Tokyo Reporter, the victim was 21-year-old Ena Mastuoka, a member of pop group Tenshi Tsukinukeni Yomi. With a combination of the scenery he pieced together from her selfies, and Google Street View, he was able to work out where she lived.
The suspect, named Hibiki Sato, would apparently enlarge the photos, and first worked out which train station the woman commuted from by working out which landmarks she passed on her journey. He then triangulated these landmarks on Google Street View, and was able to determine which station she was riding from, according to police.
Sato was arrested on Tuesday this week, October 8. He also apparently revealed to investigators how he would study all aspects of the victim’s photos, such as curtain placement and the direction of natural light coming in, to work out which building she lived in.
After working out her location and stalking his victim, Sato allegedly attacked and molested the woman as she entered her building one night in early September. He reportedly fled the scene, but was later identified by security camera images.
A police spokesperson told Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun:
People should be fully aware that posting pictures and video on social media runs the risk of divulging personal data.
In response, some people suggested a crime like this was almost inevitable due to the ever-higher-resolution cameras available in smartphones, and the pressure on young people – popstars in particular – to regularly post photos online.
As Shuichiro Hoshi, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, said: ‘The picture quality of smartphone cameras has become very fine, and a new risk has arisen in which private information is being leaked unexpectedly. In other words, the risk of a so-called ‘digital stalker’ is on the rise.’
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.