How do you get the masses to spy on each other, offer them cash prizes

Daily Mail
05.10.2009
By Daily Mail Reporter

Internet game that awards points for people spotting real crimes on CCTV is branded ’snooper’s paradise’

A new internet game is about to be launched which allows ’super snooper’ players to plug into the nation’s CCTV cameras and report on members of the public committing crimes.

The ‘Internet Eyes’ service involves players scouring thousands of CCTV cameras installed in shops, businesses and town centres across Britain looking for law-breakers.

Players who help catch the most criminals each month will win cash prizes up to £1,000.

The Internet Eyes’ website will also feature a rogue’s gallery of the so-called ‘criminals’ along with a list of their offences and which internet user caught them.

But civil rights campaigners today condemned the game, which launches in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, next month, and branded it ‘a snoopers paradise’.

They claim nosey neighbours could snoop on homeowners putting the wrong rubbish in bins and even motorists guilty of the most minor misdemeanors.

But businessman Tony Morgan, a former restaurant owner, said it would give local businesses protection against petty criminals, and act as a deterrent once ‘Internet Eyes patrol here’ signs are prominently displayed.

He will charge those who use the service, which could eventually include local authorities and even police forces as well as shop owners, £20 a week per camera to have their CCTV included on the site - amounting to thousands each year.

He said: ‘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.

‘Crimes are bound to get missed but this way people the cameras will be watched by lots of people 24-hours-a-day.

‘It gives people something better to do than watching Big Brother when everyone is asleep.

‘We’ve had a lot of interest from local businesses and hope to roll it out nationwide and then worldwide.’

‘There are more than four million cameras in the UK so everybody is on camera already, it is just that no one is watching the cameras.’

Players collect points by watching the cameras, which show CCTV images in real-time, and click a button every time they see something suspicious taking place.

An SMS or text message, along with a still image of the alleged crime, is sent to whoever controls the camera. They can then decide whether or not to take action.

Players are awarded one point for spotting a suspected crime and three points if they see someone committing an actual crime.  Players also lose points if the camera operator rules that the alert was not a crime.

The game has been condemned by civil rights campaigners who claim it will encourage people to spy and snitch on each other.

Charles Farrier, director of the No-CCTV pressure group, said: ‘It is an appalling idea for a game and will create a snoopers paradise.

‘It is something which should be nipped in the bud immediately. It will not only encourage a dangerous spying mentality by turning crime into a game but also could lead to dangerous civil rights abuses.

James Woodward, head of the technical team for Internet Eyes, which is based in Devon and Stratford-upon-Avon, said safeguards - including blocking players out for sending three incorrect alerts - would prevent the game being abused.

‘Whoever has a CCTV camera, be it the police, local authorities or business or home owners can sign up to have their cameras watched. We hope to include police cameras very soon.’

The game will initially use CCTV cameras in shops and businesses in Stratford-upon-Avon but will be rolled out across Britain by December before going worldwide next year.

Last month it was revealed that Britain has 4.2 million CCTV cameras - the equivalent of one per 14 people - one-and-a-half-times as many as Communist China.

Full article

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