Taking down Russian webcam site not easy, says Information Commissioner

Christopher Graham has admitted the Russian webcam website cannot be quickly shut down.

The website that contains live streams from private webcams of homes and businesses across the world cannot be easily shut down, it emerged today.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham has said that because Russia is neither in his or the European Union's jurisdiction that little could be done right away.

He is quoted by The Independent as saying: “It may take longer to get the site taken down. It is not within my jurisdiction, it is not within the European Union; it is Russia.

"I will do what I can but don’t wait for me to have sorted this out. The action is in your own hands if you have one of these pieces of kit.”

The website in question is based in Moscow and boasts live streams from 584 locations in the UK. The BBC compiled the following list of just a fraction of the locations that are distinguishable from the live feeds:

  • an office in Warwickshire
  • a child's bedroom in Birmingham
  • a home's driveway in Nottinghamshire
  • a gym in Manchester, a pub in Salford
  • a shop interior in London

There are thought to be more than 10,000 hacked feeds on the site from as many as 200 countries across the world.

Many of the affected webcams are wireless IP cameras made by Foscam and the way hackers managed to get gain access to the feeds is by users failing to change the default usernames and passwords that come with some older models. Rather than creating their own unique password, some users retained the original that could be found out by any hacker.

Newer webcams made by Foscam display a warning every time the user logs in if they haven't changed their password, and that warning will only go away once they do.

The website controversially claims its actions aren't illegal, and that it's merely highlighting the importance of security settings. It also claims that as soon as the camera owners change their password their feed is removed from the site. The ICO have said that If the site was based in the UK it would have broken two laws, including the 1998 Data Protection Act.