This is so fundamentally flawed that it is surprising that it has not been dreamed up by the Labour policy weasel control freaks at the Home Office or at the "Department for Communities and Local Government (who seem to be trying to drop the words "Department for" on their web site)
Instead of employing properly trained and Security Industry Authority licensed, camera control room operators, but allowing them to use secure,Virtual Private Network video camera feeds, remotely from home (something which is potentially attractive to many part time or disabled workers) , the Internet Eyes scheme/scam tries to exploit the most gullible of "Big Brother" voyeurs, on the cheap.
Contrary to most of the media and blog headlines about this scheme, which falsely report that the public is somehow going to be paid to watch these CCTV feeds, it turns out that Internet Eyes are not actually planning to pay people to snoop at all. Instead they are only offering them the vague hope of winning a monthly prize.
However "Viewers" /snoopers have to pay for SMS "alert credits" at £1 per alert, and "Customers" / camera operators, may have to pay £20 a month at least.
There are many possible ways in which the public could be involved in CCTV based Neighbourhood Watch schemes etc., but none of them so far have overcome the fundamental problem of what can be done about criminals who are also your neighbours , and who have the same access to the Open CCTV / Neighbourhood Watch CCTV scheme as you do.
People seem to forget that CCTV camera feeds not only show the occasional flurry of "suspicious" activity, but they also show, the vast majority of time, the absence of police or security guards or business staff or home owners, i.e. they show when the coast is clear for criminals to attack their targets.
According to its website FAQ page, the Internet Eyes scheme attempts to get around this by not revealing the locations of the CCTV cameras which it is allegedly streaming images from to the "Viewer" over the internet. N.B. these feeds could be very easily faked - how can a "Viewer" know for sure that they are getting a live camera feed ?
This makes it worse than useless from an anti-crime alert point of view !
If any law abiding "Viewer" does, by some miracle, happen to see a violent crime in progress, he or she cannot actually pick up a phone and dial 999 / 112 to alert the local Police or Ambulance service about it - a vague "something is happening, I do not know exactly where)" is a waste of police time and could get them arrested for making a "hoax" 999 call, if they try to guess the location.
Why did none of the professional journalists involved with this story bother to ask about this obvious aspect of the scheme ?
If you do decide to send an alert then you immediately lose the camera feed you were watching !
"As soon as you alert you'll be re-directed to new cameras"
This is worse than useless, as people will then have to wait until the alleged crime seems to be definitely over, i.e. when the criminals have fled, before sending an alert
The Daily Mail article has this revealing quote:
James Woodward, head of the technical team for Internet Eyes, which is based in Devon and Stratford-upon-Avon, said safeguards - including blocking players out for sending three incorrect alerts - would prevent the game being abused.
He said: 'For privacy reasons users will not know the location of the cameras. They will find it very difficult to work out where the camera is.
'It is possible that someone who is blocked out could see a crime taking place but be unable to alert the operator.
'But it is probably safe to assume someone else looking at the same camera will raise the alarm.
James Woodward is either being utterly naive or deliberately mendacious.
Why would there be "someone else looking at the same camera" at the same time ?
Presumably, because initially, there are only going to be as few as 4 cameras signed up to the scheme, which all of the "Viewers" / mug punters will be fed images from, reducing their chances of winning the "monthly £1000 prize" considerably.
Internet Eyes do not seem to be running their own CCTV control room, staffed 24/7 by trained , Security Industry Authority licensed staff, who could then zoom in on any camera feed which which the "Viewers" have alerted them to, and who could then alert the Police, and liaise with them , as proper CCTV control rooms do.
Instead the SMS text message alerts and / or emails are to be sent directly to the "Customer", without any trained human sanity checking, with all the inherent mobile phone SMS text message and internet delays.
Would you pay £20 per month per CCTV camera to be sent text messages from random "anonymous" people in the middle of the night ?
The "Internet Eyes" claims that the "viewers" are somehow "anonymous" is, of course, utter nonsense, since you have to register your details for the purpose of sending "alerts" , and for the faint prospect of receiving the monthly financial prize.
Anyone stupid enough to fill in the online registration form with their personal details, including address and mobile phone number, including their PayPal email account, is asking to be a victim of "identity theft" or harassment, especially as there are no details of how, if at all, this data is secured properly.
The fact that the web registration form is insecure over the internet as it does not bother to use a SSL / session encryption (https://) like normal e-commerce / online credit card / internet banking forms etc., should be enough on its own for Spy Blog readers to steer well clear of this scheme.
The "Viewer" / mug punter only gets 3 "free" alerts a month, so they would have to be extraordinarily lucky or complicit, to be able to report the real crimes in a month, and get a chance of their snitch tip getting a positive rating being by the "Customer".
It comes as no surprise that Internet Eyes will then charge the mug punter £1 per alert credit over and above these "free" credits, something which may, if the scheme is honestly run, increase their chances of accumulating "points".
However there is no guarantee that reaching a certain number of "points" entitles you to any prize at all, so this all looks suspiciously like an illegal Lottery.
"Customers" are also being ripped off. Anyone foolish enough to cough up £20 month per CCTV camera to be "monitored" also has no guarantees that anyone is watching their camera feed 24/7 at all.
The Internet Eyes "advice" on the Data Protection Act is misleading. They claim that "Customers" must register their CCTV systems under the Data Protection Act 1998.
This is not true for small scale CCTV systems, which are not capable of pan / tilt / zoom tracking of individuals etc. due to the way in which the Durant versus Financial Services Authority legal precedent, is currently being interpreted by the Information Commissioner's Office.
There is no excuse for Internet Eyes Limited not to have already registered as a Data Controller, well before they launched the hype for this scheme / scam, unfortunately, they appear to have failed to do this:
Their Terms and Conditions web page is full of missing information !
www.interneteyes.co.uk is a website operated by Internet Eyes Limited (we or us). We are registered in England and Wales under company number [COMPANY NUMBER] and have our registered office at [COMPANY ADDRESS]. Our main trading address is [TRADING ADDRESS].
We have notified details of how we control personal data to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Under the DPA, you will become a "data processor" and are required to abide by the rules and restrictions set out in these terms and applicable requirements under that Law.
It is hard to emphasise just how dodgy and untrustworthy the lack of any actual details for [COMPANY NUMBER], [COMPANY ADDRESS], [TRADING ADDRESS] the lack of a VAT registration number, and the lack of any apparent actual Data Protection Register registration number for "Internet Eyes Limited" itself, appears to the sceptical public.
Their attempts to weasel out of Legal Liability
We have no control over, and do not guarantee the quality, safety, accuracy or legality of CCTV feeds viewed by means of the Service. The Service may be interrupted or delayed by reason of numerous factors outside of our control.
is also misleadingly wrong.
This disclaimer does not absolve them or their Customers or Viewers from their liability under the Criminal Law e.g.
- Data Protection Act 1998
- nor under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 67 Voyeurism (2 years in prison for installing or facilitating camera equipment used for voyeurism e.g. in toilets
- Child Pornography offences including digital images and "pseudo-images" under the Protection of Children Act 1978
- Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc (up to 10 years in prison for publishing or communicating information about a Police constable or perhaps an undercover police vehicle registration number etc.)
Is "Internet Eyes" merely incompetent, or is it an actual scam ?
4.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK ? Prove it !
An extra note for Internet Eyes Limited, the Daily Mail journalists and sub-editors, and for students of memetics
The Daily Mail article repeats the meme that somehow "Britain has 4.2 million CCTV cameras" , but falsely claims that this guesstimate is somehow a recent fact.
Last month it was revealed that Britain has 4.2 million CCTV cameras - the equivalent of one per 14 people - one-and-a-half-times as many as Communist China.
Actually, as regular readers of Spy Blog may know, this "4,2 million CCTV cameras" figure stems from the academic guesstimate made , not "last month", but back in 2003 i.e., over 6 years ago !.
"Estimating the extent, sophistication and legality of CCTV in London", by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris, published in CCTV edited by Martin Gill, Perptuity Press 2003 (now distributed by Palgrave Paladin) ISBN: 189928771X
Perhaps there are even more cameras than this now, but nobody actually knows for sure.
See: "monitored on CCTV 300 times a day" etc. soundbites
How exactly do they know how many CCTV cameras there are in Communist China either ?