Nova Scotia·CBC Investigates

Russian website shows unsecured video streams from across Canada

A CBC News investigation has uncovered private security cameras in what appear to be a medical clinic, motel parking lot and a family breakfast nook that are unwittingly live-streaming to the world.

'Anybody could actually record those streams,' lawyer warns of disturbing privacy breaches

This camera at an unidentified Quebec medical facility shows patients in hospital gowns. (CBC)

An ongoing CBC News investigation has uncovered private security cameras in what appear to be a medical clinic, motel parking lot and a family breakfast nook that are unknowingly being live streamed to the world.

These video feeds are collected on a Russian-registered website that displays links to thousands of web-linked security cameras around the globe.

One video stream shows a driveway somewhere in Nova Scotia and a quick glance tells you if the family is home or not. A Dartmouth, N.S., motel's exterior security cameras offer anyone curious a live look at who's coming and going. Staff at the Dartmouth motel didn't want to talk to CBC News, but did say they were going to fix the breach.

Surveillance video from the exterior of the Lake City Motel in Dartmouth, N.S., was one of the videos featured on the Russian-registered website. (CBC)

In Quebec, what seems to be a medical facility's surveillance camera shows patients heading into changing booths and emerging in hospital gowns. CBC News could not determine where the cameras were in the province or which facility it is, and contacted health authorities in Quebec. 

The video feed appeared to have been taken down Friday afternoon. 

An Alberta camera in a kitchen live streamed a pyjama-clad family, including teenaged children, eating breakfast. Another somewhere in British Columbia shows two senior citizens inside their home, and a woman can be seen watching TV. 

'You don't know how it was used'

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper in Halifax, said the privacy breaches could have consequences.

"Anybody could actually record those streams. That's one of the issues. You simply don't know where it went. You don't know how it was used. And you don't know for what purpose," he told CBC News.

Earlier this week, CBC reported on a security camera at the Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona, N.S. Images of students were broadcast live on the internet for an unknown time.

The Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board said the roughly 200 other surveillance cameras in other schools were always secure. The board is keeping them up for staff and student security.

"We haven't found any instances of the same thing occurring across the board. But we still have taken extra precautions in making sure safety protocols were updated in all schools," said Lewis MacDonald, co-ordinator of facilities management at the school board.

Secure your passwords

The disclosure sparked an investigation from Nova Scotia's privacy commissioner, Catherine Tully. 

Daniel Tobok, a cybersecurity expert in Toronto, said the problem of webcam images being streamed around the world is common. On Thursday, he said cameras connected to the internet are at risk and advised users to employ a good password as a start to protecting their privacy. 

With files from Jack Julian