Canada’s privacy commissioner will once again press companies that make security cameras to strengthen privacy on their devices so users don’t unwittingly stream personal images on the internet.
“We are actually going to be sending letters and reaching out the manufacturers in the very near future,” said Jennifer Rees-Jones, a senior advisor at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
The office wants all manufacturers to make devices that require users to change the default password when they plug the surveillance camera in. It also said the boxes the cameras come in should have strongly worded warnings about the privacy risks if the device is not secure.
Rees-Jones said the action was inspired by a CBC News story last week about Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona, Cape Breton, where a surveillance camera was streaming images of students outside a bathroom live to the internet.
Rees-Jones said the privacy commissioner sent similar letters in early 2015, but the threat to Canadians’ privacy is still acute, since the IP addresses of the cameras can point to the province or even the community where the cameras are located.
“The combination of live feeds in individuals’ homes, without them being aware that this is available online, and then add to that the geographical location as well, it’s an incredibly serious and concerning issue,” she said.
CBC News followed Canadian links on the Russian-registered website insecam.org to find insecure webcams broadcasting inside several Canadian homes.
People unknowingly broadcast
Reporters were able to see a senior citizen in B.C. watching TV in her housecoat, and a family in Alberta eating breakfast in their pyjamas.
A security expert told CBC News there are between 100 million and 200 million digital security cameras in Canada with varying levels of security.
“Some of them have very strong security. Some have no security at all. Some have very weak and hackable…