Home camera footage sent to stranger in yet another privacy breach

front view of swann security wireless home camera

You may recall the uproar caused when an Amazon Alexa recording of a conversation taking place in one Oregon family’s home was sent to a contact in error back in May… Well, the visual equivalent of that serious data breach just happened, and this time the manufacturer in question was Swann Security.

Imagine opening up your ‘smart’ camera app and seeing not your own home, but someone else’s. This was the scenario faced by one owner of a product from wireless camera manufacturer Swan Security, the self-proclaimed “#1 of DIY home CCTV system companies.”

The recipient of the video and owner of the camera was in a fact a BBC journalist, Louisa Lewis, who saw live footage of a stranger’s family members in their kitchen.

When contacted about the issue, a representative for Swann told her the issue couldn’t be looking at until after the weekend – and she only stopped seeing the footage of someone else’s home following the weekend, after she contacted the PR company for Swann.

Swann later said that, following investigation, a security key issue caused the crossover.

Since the news broke, another incident has come to light involving another user, who claims footage from inside a pub appeared on his app, instead of his home. Swann came out to say this was due to the rare coincidence of users having exactly the same username and password (which of course, shouldn’t even happen in the first place), but the BBC has since further investigated this claim (due to the involvement of its employee), and found it not to be true.

Not only is the issue of data privacy at large here, the response of Swann to shift the blame onto the consumer when they facilitated such security issues is worrying – if the stats are true, one negative experience with these types of IoT/smart products can affect their whole relationship with home technology. Whether it’s a company of Amazon’s scale to blame or a smaller manufacturer like Swann, the causes of such issues need to be seriously looked at (and soon) to stop the bad PR causing harm to the CI world.

Swan has since contacted the Information Commissioner's Office, the UK's data privacy protector, about the incident, and an investigation has begun.