Thursday, 20 November 2014

A paradise for perverts and peeping toms

I work up today with the dulcet tones of Information Commissioner Christopher Graham whispering in my ear. No, he wasn’t literally in the room, but he was on Radio 4’s Today programme, expressing his concern at a new website, hosted well outside the EU, of evident interest to perverts and peeping toms.

Basically, the site claims to provide a live feed to a large number of insecure webcams, all around the world. The address of the site is freely available online, so there’s no need for me to mention it in this blog. 

At noon today, I took a quick squint at the site. There were feeds from 584 webcams allegedly situated in the UK. Most of them were really boring – showing what was going on in bars, bike sheds, garages, fish tanks, offices and one particularly fetching shot of a pool table in an empty room. And yes, a few cameras were feeding live images from people’s bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens and gardens.

As can be seen by the images that are so easy to scrape from the internet, someone (in Bedford) was still in bed. Can you recognise them? Surely, not that many people in Bedford have an enormous Spiderman motif stencilled on their bedroom wall. Several dogs on captured on several webcams were fast asleep, too, but this one (in Crawley) was the most photogenic. The images gave been deliberately cropped to remove material that might more readily identify the subjects – but you get my drift. They ought not be so readily available. The owner of the webcam in Bedford particularly needs to improve their security controls, before even more embarrassing images can be shared with the world (+dog).

I’ll take down this image tomorrow, once I’ve made my point, and I’ll replace it with images that contain less potentially sensitive material. (I’ll remove it immediately if the person responsible for the webcam in Bedford lets me know that they’ve sorted out their webcam's security, as really I don’t want to cause needless anguish.)

Earlier images of the dog and the person asleep have now been removed, to respect their dignity. They've been replaced with less interesting images.  I've made my point about how easy it is to embarrass the innocent.