ICO Cautions Internet Eyes after CCTV Footage of Shopper Posted on YouTube
Internet Eyes is a monitoring website that streams CCTV images from retail clients. The system is based on a concept whereby registered members view these images on their computer and earn rewards if they report crimes spotted – a win-win situation for both retailers and registered members.
However, an individual who found CCTV images of themselves posted on YouTube did not share this optimism. A privacy complaint was made and after the investigations carried out by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), it was discovered that Internet Eyes had failed to encrypt the images that were being streamed on their website. Further, the monitoring website did not keep a complete record of its viewers’ activities which made it impossible to trace the viewer who posted the clip onto YouTube in the first place.
ICO Deputy Commissioner David Smith stated, “CCTV footage should not end up on YouTube…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”.
The ICO ultimately reacted by issuing an undertaking on 14 June 2011 to Internet Eyes. An undertaking is a promise by a data controller that all reasonable steps will be taken to prevent similar failures in data protection compliance. In the event that Internet Eyes falls foul of the undertaking, the ICO can then issue an enforcement notice for breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Managing Director of Internet Eyes Tony Morgan stated, “we are trying to run a legitimate website” to “reduce crime to help small businesses growing”. Nevertheless, he accepted the problems that surfaced as a result of the YouTube posting and that Internet Eyes were not going to fight the ICO and will do whatever they can to meet the requirements set out.
In the UK there are 2.5million CCTV cameras in operation and the average person is caught on CCTV footage 300 times a day. The Internet Eyes case highlights the importance of the need to run CCTV in accordance with the ICO guidelines and data protection legislation.