Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Why you should worry about proliferating surveillance cameras

John Battelle's Searchblog let's us know that it's possible using Google to identify and view all non-secure web cams. In some cases you can actually control them (e.g.) from your computer. Battelle describes the results as:
a bunch of presumably private network cameras, which anyone with a browser can query for video images. Comments in the original post show all manner of things found live, via the web, from rodents to security guards. I imagine this is a hole that will soon be closed, one way or the other.
Well, the Google hole may soon be closed, but henceforth the list of URLs is basically public after this outing. Anyone from the feds to criminals to terrorists can gather up the hundreds of links and continue to monitor them long after Google pulls the plug on the search vehicle.

Here's the post he's discussing.

The discovery reinforces Grits' concerns about Texas' and the United States' deregulated approach to camera surveillance. No state or federal standards exist to dictate when and where people can be tracked on surveillance cameras, who can view security video, for what reasons, or what government or private entities can do with the footage. In
2003, state Senator Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio amended Texas statutes to make all government decisions on those topics secret.

In Dallas, Grits noted recently, police are transmitting webcam information over the internet to private businesses, though one would hope their system is secure enough not to show up on this list.

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