Big Brother Watch has long had concerns about Internet Eyes, the website allowing armchair voyeurs to monitor private CCTV cameras from the comfort of their computer. Back in March one of the first schemes in three outlets of Budgens in Norfolk was shut down barely a week after it launched after concerned customers complained to the shop owner about the intrusive system.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have now lambasted the site for allowing unencrypted footage from their cameras to end up on YouTube. Because the site does not track viewers’ activities, it is impossible to identify who is responsible for uploading the video. After an investigation from the ICO, they discovered that Internet Eyes did not encrypt any of the video on the site. They have now demanded that all images are encrypted and all viewer activity is monitored to ensure CCTV footage is not transferred to other websites.
In addition, from 31st July no viewer will be able to access footage from cameras located within a 30 mile radius of their registered location in an effort to stop people viewing their neighbours.
Ever since its inception, Internet Eyes has been fraught with crisis after crisis, upsetting privacy groups, the ICO and the general public. It is a terrible idea which should never have seen the light of day. Big Brother Watch and the ICO will continue to monitor their activities to ensure no further abuses occur with the footage.
ICO Deputy Commissioner David Smith said:
“CCTV footage should not end up on YouTube when it shows someone simply out doing their shopping. A person’s CCTV image is their personal data. The law says that it should only be disclosed where necessary, such as for the purposes of crime detection, and not merely for entertainment.”
Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch released the following comment:
“Today's ruling does little to address fundamental concerns many have about this system and its impact upon personal privacy. It's fundamentally wrong to hand untrained and unaccountable voyeurs the power to monitor CCTV images. This should be left to trained professionals.”