A new website is offering a £1,0000-a-month reward for spotting crimes captured on live CCTV cameras.
The initiative asks users to monitor random cameras across the country and report back on any dodgy behaviour. If you successfully report a crime, then you could be in for a cash reward.
On the Internet Eyes website (http://interneteyes.co.uk) the online snooping system is described as: "uniquely designed to be proactive in detecting crime as it happens... The general public can watch CCTV camera's anywhere, and instantly alert the camera owner when a crime is committed."
Looking at CCTV feeds on the internet breaches the UK's Data Protection Act. ITPro has handily picked out a piece of legislation which highlights this, explaining that, when it comes to using CCTV images, "it would not be appropriate to disclose images of identifiable individuals to the media for entertainment purposes or place them on the internet."
Real-time and anonymous
Internet Eyes is trying to get round this by making the CCTV feeds it sends to users of the site anonymous.
"The locations of the feeds are not disclosed and users reporting remain anonymous," notes the website.
"Users can earn money by detecting an event [such as shoplifting, burglary, vandalism and anti-social behaviour]."
"The user's notification is sent to an SMS device of the owner of the video feed. The owner of the video feed is known as a Customer. The customer will also get a screenshot sent to their Customer Control Panel.
"As a user you'll need to be quick if you're certain of activity as there may be other users watching the same video feeds. Only the first notification gets through."
It all sounds very clandestine and the whole thing is pitched almost like a game, which is troubling given the fact that it's real-life incidents that are being dealt with.
The homepage mentions the use of league tables and a points system for regular crime-spotters.
The snooping service doesn't launch until November, so it will be interesting to see just what sort of reaction data protection agencies have with the website.
Crime prevention weapon
The owner of the site, Tony Morgan, has spoken to the Daily Mail about Internet Eyes and sees it as a good opportunity to actively use the 4 million plus CCTV cameras in the UK, saying: "This could turn out to be the best crime prevention weapon there's ever been.
"I wanted to combine the serious business of stopping crime with the incentive of winning money. There are over 4 million CCTV cameras in the UK and only one in a thousand gets watched."
This is all fine but Charles Farrier, director of the No-CCTV pressure group, is appalled by the idea, stating: "It will not only encourage a dangerous spying mentality by turning crime into a game but also could lead to dangerous civil rights abuses."
What's next? Channeling real-life military situations into a videogame where the outcome is decided by the player and calling it something silly like War Games? Now there's an idea.
Via the Daily Mail
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Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.