back to article Amateur CCTV sleuth site probed by privacy watchdog

A new website that would let internet users monitor CCTV cameras online has hit trouble before launch, with the data protection watchdog suggesting the idea could be illegal. Internet Eyes, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, plans to charge businesses £20 per month to have their security camera feeds monitored by its members, who …


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  1. Citizen Kaned

    in other words....

    its ok for big bro to spy on your every move, but how dare average joe be allowed!

    <sarcasm>i mean its not like the gov have used this for dodgy reasons before (like spying into bedrooms for instance)</sarcasm>

  2. Nigel Callaghan Silver badge


    so, no more webcams then? (unless they're on top of a VERY high building)

  3. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    So you get some freak, sees a sexual assault taking place and then waits while they enjoy it, before calling the CCTV company, get their prize first, then they call the authorities. Too late the victim is dead or simply kidnapped and the authorities now have no idea where the victim might be, because the only person who might have been able to save them was too busy sorting out their blood-money bounty!

    What a wonderful little business and wonderful world we live in!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @the Fuzzy Wotnot

      "So you get some freak, sees a sexual assault taking place and then waits while they enjoy it, before calling the CCTV company, get their prize first, then they call the authorities. "

      I think it it's quite likely the feeds *will* be recorded as well. The sheer volume of footage that has needed to be viewed is (supposedly) what has limited the ability to use CCTV to catch criminals in near real time.

    2. Thomas 18


      If a firm is paying £20 then its likely they wouldn't hire a full time security guard to watch them if the service wasn't available so its either spotty teenagers watch or nobody does.

      The feeds are sent to multiple people at once meaning even if one user is watching and laughing others will pick up on the crime. This also avoids false positives.

  4. fixit_f

    I hadn't heard about this

    Another bit of entertainment for old biddies (sorry, "silver surfers") - virtual curtain twitching is born.

    How is operating this service any different under the law to any of the webcams out there transmitted across the internet? The BBC links to some of them.

  5. Deckchair

    Hammer Time.

    "...we're fighting crime and terrorism."

    No Tony. No you're not.

  6. Secretgeek

    There must be something wrong.

    I work in the data protection field and have surprised myself by thinking this would be a good idea. Think of all those millions of cameras that we've spent all that money on. 90% of the time no-one's looking at what they're feeding anyway. Very few crimes are actually solved or stopped by CCTV so why not have an army of sad twats sat in their bedroom hoping to win a £1000 (whilst also secretly really hoping to see two people shagging in an alley) by combating crime.

    If we've spent the money on the cameras and they're not likely to come down anytime soon then why not use them?

  7. copsewood
    Big Brother


    If this is illegal then this would make every webcam installed in the UK illegal if it transmits images to the web. I'd have thought if that were the case someone would have complained about it long ago on the same grounds. These things have been around in great numbers going back 15 years. I havn't read anything in the DPA which suggests this to be a problem, so long as personal data collected for one purpose isn't used for another.

    1. lpopman

      titular anomaly

      erm, under the DPA your image is classed as personal data, so allowing some random joe bloggs from the internet to watch faces go by would be a technical breach.

  8. Elmer Phud

    Spherical -pulral

    "In October the firm's founder Tony Morgan asserted the sincerity of the website, saying, "It's not a game - we're fighting crime and terrorism". "

    Nah, you're out to make money by invoking moral devils.

  9. npupp 1


    And so, with the statement "However, it is not appropriate to disclose images of identifiable individuals for entertainment purposes" a genre of late night programs is instantly culled. Police Camera Action / CCTV Cities.

    Sir, I raise my glass to you ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: o.O

      And not a moment too soon.

      Those Police Camera Action / CCTV type programs are despicable.

  10. Gulfie

    Epic fail...

    When you take the ICO's quotes "CCTV operators should use appropriately trained staff to monitor images", "It is not appropriate to disclose images of identifiable individuals for entertainment purposes or to place them on the internet" and "If images are to be released for identification purposes, this should not generally be done by anyone other than the law enforcement agencies" you are left with a series of indisputable facts that blow a huge hole in the Internet Eyes business model.

    They are putting stuff on the web, by somebody other than the police, and it is being 'observed' by untrained people you can only really describe as voyeurs.

    So the note on their web site, "Due to further stipulations arising with the ICO we are delaying launch until these items are dealt with and approved. We take the ICO's views very seriously and are keen to work within their guidelines." needs a little re-writing:

    "We were hoping to make a fast buck but the ICO has stuck their nose in where it doesn;t belong and blown our scheme full of holes. We're currently trying to find a way of continuing with our plans that allows us to ignore the ICO, avoid legal action and still coin it. First person to call in film of a copulating couple wins £10000"

    There, that's fixed it for you.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "monitor CCTV cameras online"

    What? If you're monitoring them online, they're hardly closed circuit are they?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Load of nonsense

    A quick look at the firms website suggests there is nothing of substance to this project. Most likely some local business man came up with the idea in the pub one night whilst debating with his mates how he could make his million.

    All the pointers are there: no need for any kind of visible investment from the creators themselves other than a bit of web design; no need for any effort on their part (just shift it all onto joe public); no need to take part in any day to day management of the project ("Yeah, this server will email the guy whose shop is being robbed... hope he is surfing at the moment, maybe thats why the shoplifters are taking advantage, tee hee")...

    The attention it has managed to get so far will probably be the zenith of it's achievements.

  13. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Another job that is done better... software.

  14. Mark Stanbrook

    Don't see any problem

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with this business model.

    - Sign up business to have their cameras monitored cheaply.

    - Contract individuals to do the monitoring.

    How is that in ANY way different from having a security guard in the building watching the camera(s)?

    If it's cheap and easy to set up as a business as well then even better. Lots of people will be kicking themselves for not seeing it first. Although there's nothing patentable here so no doubt many copycats will spring up shortly when its shown that there's no privacy/data protection issues that can or even SHOULD stop it going ahead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's see

      Unregulated access by anyone?


      The fact that these cameras were put up under the guise that they would be CLOSED circuit (the clue is in the name) and not just invading all of our privacy for someone else's kicks?

      When it was pointed out this might happen we were told nononono, it will only be trained people, not voyeurs?

      It would be great for voyeurs and worse?

      Untrained eyes could mistake the severity of what was happening - consequences either way?

      We'd have"funny" clips all over the internet that compromise people and ruin lives?

      It drives a coach and horses through most of the legislation as has been pointed out?

      It is just an excuse for someone to make a bucketload of cash out of gullible voyeurs under the guise of security?

  15. Inachu


    But yet people get help from Dr. Phil on TV for entertainment purposes only.

    When you do go on the Dr. Phil show you have to sign a paper that says that his help is for entertainment purposes only........

    Same here but this has more credibility.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Simple solution

    Since the coppers don't use the cctv for anything, just disconnect it.

  17. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Down

    Eliminating objections to this way of working

    - use of amateurs - certify by police (income-sharing)

    - reporting mechanism - prizes are not the best, but any number of solutions okay

    - mass surveillance - the same method with wired-up vigilantes has worked, and not offended through data collection. If police were on the streets, it would be welcomed.

    - use of cameras - if this were the problem, it applies to all sorts of uses. The main responses are "its our territory" and "cameras are useless without human intervention". The second one is being defrocked in this case.

    As I see it, a genuine business proposition, to get value out of already installed cameras, shows up all public CCTV use as problematic.

  18. Peter Kay

    Excellent money making opportunity there!

    Step one : Set up a number of fake accounts

    Step two : Buy black balaclava and toy/foam crowbar

    Step three : Run on to premises of firm monitored by cheapo CCTV that does not have police, attack dogs, guns of any type or sharks with fricking lasers on their snouts. Run away.

    Step four : Friend submits 'crime footage' until 1,000 quid is gained.

    Step five : Wait till next month. Go to step one.

    Of course you still run the risk of trespass or possibly some form of deception (not precisely fraud, though, as the camera is being watched even if the events are fake)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Double standards

    If these cameras are in public places, then I can't see a logical argument against it other than I think it's a daft idea.

    Similar arguments are used to justify the (correct) freedom to photograph and video in public places by photographers.

    It's either public and therefore open to scrutiny, or it's not.

    Private establishments where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy is different of course.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I want to join!

    Watch "CCTV" and wait until I see the shop owner pack his takings and prepare to leave for the bank.

    Then a quick phone call to my dodgy mate who mugs him as he goes out of the door.

    Pure co-incidence your Honour!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amaze your friends!

    Play "ITV Chairman" and win prizes in the comfort of your own home! All you need* is an audience of two professionally unemployed friends, a good line in suitably reproving Sean Bean style voiceovers, and some bookmarks for youtube spoof ads for the tea break.

    * A healthy disregard for ethics and privacy is advisable

  22. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

    Pictures are not Personal Data within the meaning of the act

    The Data Protection Act protects information relating to identifiable living individuals. If I am a PFY ogling a camera feed, I may see any number of individual images, but I won't (in all probability) be able to work out the identity of any of them, so as far as I can see that won't come within the scope of the DPA. The ICO would seem to be out on a limb, though of course I Am Not A Lawyer.

    As others have pointed out, any interpretation otherwise would call into question the legality of webcams everywhere.

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