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Web surfers can watch while cameras watch you

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NEW YORK — It sounds like a chapter out of "Spy vs. Spy."

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have launched a project called Camera Watch that lists Internet cameras that monitor public spaces, letting Web surfers try the role of bored security guard.

The project is part of "Surveillance of Surveillances," an effort by the school's Data Privacy Lab to monitor the exploding number of cameras watching the public. The group hopes to learn enough to propose policies to govern the cameras' use.

The lab is in the process of posting links to 6,000 of the estimated 10,000 public Web cams in the United States.

The site includes everything from gray stills of traffic in Rockville, Md., to video of students meandering across a campus in Washington, D.C., and even lenses peeping on jail bookings in Tennessee and Louisiana.

The site — privacy.cs.cmu.edu/dataprivacy/projects/camwatch — notes that a few of the "jail cams" had been disabled due to lawsuits.