Mass surveillance: Video surveillance

Mass video surveillance (also known as close-circuit television, or CCTV) is the large-scale collection, storage and analysis of video and audio data from video surveillance cameras. Mass video surveillance aims to capture the identity of people who pass through a space and to extend its coverage to as much space as possible. Some countries now have more surveillance cameras than citizens.

Collection

Sources of CCTV footage include:

CCTV cameras can vary widely in quality, range, night vision capabilities, presence of microphones, etc.

Storage

After its collection, CCTV footage is often stored for some time (from weeks to indefinite durations) before being erased.

Analysis

An adversary can analyze CCTV footage:

Analysis of CCTV footage can be performed:

See also

Used in tactics: Deterrence, Incrimination

Mitigations

NameDescription
Anonymous dress

By dressing anonymously, you can prevent an adversary from identifying you from CCTV footage.

Anonymous purchases

By taking steps to purchase items anonymously, video surveillance from stores should not be able to link you to materials used in an action.

Attack

There are many ways to disable surveillance cameras.

Biometric concealment

When filmed by surveillance cameras:

  • To prevent gait recognition, you can conceal your gait by wearing baggy clothes that hide your body shape, using an umbrella or other concealing objects, or drastically changing your walking style by adopting a “funny walk”.
  • To prevent facial recognition, you can wear a mask to cover your facial features, and sunglasses or a hat with a low brim to cover your eyes.
Outdoor and device-free conversations

To avoid being picked up by surveillance cameras equipped with microphones, sensitive conversations should be conducted away from surveillance cameras.

Reconnaissance

Before an action, you can identify the location of surveillance cameras and make plans to avoid them if possible.

Transportation by bike

A bike is much harder to identify than other vehicles on CCTV footage, especially if its distinguishing features are minimized. You can use a different stolen bike for each action.

Used in repressive operations

NameDescription
Repression of Lafarge factory sabotage

Immediately after the action, investigators requested CCTV footage from public transportation (buses, train stations, etc.), businesses, home surveillance systems, and municipal cameras, all within an extended perimeter of the action site[1]. In particular, footage of the interiors of buses appears to have helped identify people traveling to and from the action site[2]. Investigators also requested footage from highway toll booths, presumably to identify the occupants of known cars traveling on highways to or from the action site.

Repression of the first Jane's Revenge arson

CCTV footage helped identify a vehicle driven by the comrade who was later arrested, when they were seen entering a parking lot on foot after a demonstration, and the vehicle was seen leaving the same parking lot a few minutes later[3].

Case against Boris

Soon after the April sabotage, investigators requested CCTV footage from businesses and municipal cameras, and lists of vehicles from automated license plate readers (ALPRs) and speed cameras, all within an extended perimeter of the sabotage site[4].

2019-2020 case against Mónica and Francisco

Public CCTV footage was extensively used by investigators to reconstruct the movements of Mónica and Francisco before and during the actions, despite the mitigations they took (taking taxis, changing clothes, wearing disguises)[5].

The three from the park bench

On the evening leading up to the arrests, one of the comrades — while being followed by cops — stopped at a gas station and was seen by the station's video surveillance cameras buying gas and filling a gas can[6]. The cops got the CCTV footage the next morning.

Prometeo

According to the investigation files, two of the accused comrades were seen on a video surveillance camera leaving a store where investigators believe the envelopes used to prepare the parcel bombs were purchased[7].

2013 case against Mónica and Francisco

Public CCTV footage was used by investigators to reconstruct the movements of Mónica and Francisco before and after the action[8]. This showed that they were near the action site shortly before the explosion of the device.