Moscow, the capital of Russia, has 175,000 CCTV cameras for surveillance purposes. Out of these, over 4,000 cameras are installed in crowded places in the city. In 2017, the mayor of Moscow said that the 3,000 cameras installed in the city had been integrated with the government’s facial recognition technology.
Moscow’s city video surveillance system’s website says that the data pulled in from CCTVs can be accessed by the employees of federal government bodies, the Moscow Mayor, law enforcement agencies, and executive authorities.
According to a report by an investigative media outlet MBKh Media, the credentials of the website which can be used for accessing the data are being sold online on underground forums and chat rooms. As per Andrey Kaganskikh, the journalist who has conducted the investigation, credentials are sold by Moscow cops and government bureaucrats.
Anybody who wants to check the live stream from a particular camera receives a unique link to the government surveillance website. He needs to enter the credentials to view the live stream.
The link automatically expires after 5 days which is, coincidentally, the same time period in which CCTV footage from crowded spaces is stored, according to the official website.
The report from the investigation mentions that the credentials for the website are available for 30,000 rubles or $470.
There is no shortage of buyers who want to purchase the data. Most of the underground forums on which the data is available are indexed by search engines which further makes it easy for sellers to grab the data.