Parent company Qihoo 360 has shut down its Shuidi live streaming platform that was connected to its WiFi-operated surveillance cameras after a period of “reflection” and “misjudging of user sentiment” prompted by public outcry over the system. However, it will continue to supply the cameras for free to kindergartens so that parents can monitor their children.

Internet security company Qihoo 360 makes cameras sold as 360 Smart Cameras. The cameras need little installation as they connect over WiFi and integrate with software which makes the stream from your camera available on your phone or computer. However, many streams were also publicly available. Cameras were installed to create a live video stream of scenes such as radio studios, but also in children’s ballet classes, shops, and people’s homes. Camera locations were even plotted on a map.

The Shuidi live streaming interface allowed users to comment on what they saw. There had been some international coverage of such platforms and lack of privacy, but an article called “92-year-old Lady Zhou Hongyi: Stop Staring at Us” went viral online in China on December 12 and brought the issue into public attention. The article also demonstrated that no warning was given when a person enters a shop that is live broadcasting, infringing their rights.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...