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Moscow Cops Sell Access to City CCTV, Facial Recognition Data

The investigative news outlet MBKh Media has found that access to Moscow’s surveillance technology is being sold on dark web forums and chatrooms. The surveillance access available contains video footage from tens of thousands of cameras and the ability to check footage from the previous several days. Other services for sale include facial recognition lookup services. There are over 175,000 CCTV cameras in Moscow, largely installed in building entrances and crowded public spaces.

In 2017, Moscow officials stated that facial recognition technology had been integrated with the databases of its law enforcement agencies and that they had access to data from 3,000 cameras. The Moscow website states that this video surveillance system may be accessed by employees of the federal government, executive authorities, and law enforcement agencies. The journalist who conducted the investigation for MBKh Media, Andrey Kaganskikh, claims that the chat room sellers are both law enforcement individuals and government bureaucrats that have access to the Integrated Center for Data Processing and Storage, which contains the video footage from cameras in Moscow.

The price of admission for unlimited access to all cameras is roughly $470, according to Kaganskikh. Kaganskikh tested the facial recognition capabilities by providing a photo of himself to a seller, which returned 238 images of people who looked similar from a total of 140 cameras, as well as a list of times and places in which they were caught on camera.

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