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Concept.png CCTV 
(Mass surveillance/TechnologySourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png 5
A protest image from

Not to be confused with China Central Television, the main public TV network in China.

CCTV (Closed-circuit television) provides (and generally records) live video footage of public or private spaces. This is a potentially welcome development as regards hampering the fabrication of mendacious official narratives. However, most (if not all?) national governments have failed to address the legal aspect of this, with the result that CCTV footage of "terrorist" events is persistently unavailable or sealed.

Official narrative

CCTV is originally about monitoring people for their own sake. Honest and law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from its increasingly universal adoption by authorities. Crime prevention, not universal surveillance, is a key driver behind the implementation of CCTV cameras.


The "total failure of CCTV to deter people from committing crimes in the first place"[1] has not deterred the ever wider deployment of CCTV, suggesting that other motives might be driving this technological roll out. Westminster Council commented that "there is only "limited evidence" fixed CCTV cameras prevent crime and disorder."[2]

Tony Porter stated that as regards UK CCTV usage, "there is a gap between what exists and what should exist." In 2015, he opined that less than 2% of UK public authorities were operating CCTV cameras in compliance with "any British standard".[3]

A 2008 mural by Banksy.[4] Westminster City Council later ordered its removal.[5]


By 2012, the UK had over 50,000 CCTV government operated cameras.[6]

Control of access to CCTV footage

CCTV evidence, although it could be made publicly available, for example, by being live streamed to the internet, is generally under the control of the few who set up the systems. Even where these are public authorities, spending public money and nominally acting for the good of the public, because it is controlled by a central authority, footage tends to remain under tight control, only released on an ad hoc basis when it suits the interests of those who set up the cameras.


In January 2017, two hackers were reportedly arrested in London on suspicion of hacking 70% of the CCTV cameras in Washington.[7]

Secret cameras

In 2016 a federal judge blocked the disclosure of where the FBI has attached surveillance cams on Seattle utility poles.[8]

In 2018 US government documents revealed that both the DEA and ICE were hiding CCTV cameras in street lights.[9]

Useful footage

On 30 October 2016, Reuters[10] published a report of the Hurriyah car bombing hoax, a car bomb in Iraq that it reported killed "at least 8 people and wounded more than 30 others", which was picked up by the New York Times[11] and other outlets. The next evening video was published which appears to be a recording of CCTV footage. This shows a man planting a bomb in an empty car. Seconds after it goes off, a van pulls up, men get out an lay on the road as if they were victims of a bombing. Other men then carry them into the van, as if they had been injured by the blast.[12]

"Unavailable" CCTV footage

An attempt to requisition CCTV footage of the Nice truck event from the "counter terrorist" group that had taken control of it.

CCTV footage, like other documents often goes missing, especially in the case of acts of "terrorism":

  • 1995: Oklahoma City bombing - In response to a suit by Jesse Trentadue, the US government gave up 26 tapes, but they all have parts of the footage missing between 8:54am and 9:02am, ostensibly because the tapes were being changed at this time.[13] These do not include the CCTV of the Murrah building; in response to a FOIA request, the FBI claims to have lost the tapes of the Murrah building, although Trentadue claims that an anonymous source told him that he had seen that video.[14][15]
  • 1995: Dutroux Affair - A police surveillance camera set up to watch Marc Dutroux was reportedly programmed to operate only from 8am-6pm so did not record his kidnapping of An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks.[16]
  • 2001: 9-11 - Susan Lindauer has claimed that she has a source who reports that CCTV footage reveals an exceptional pattern of mysterious vans arriving by night at the World Trade Center, footage which is not widely known about.[17]
  • 2005: 7 July 2005 London bombings - Verint systems took control of London Transport's CCTV 10 months before the attacks, and have never released any footage, claiming that none of the relevant cameras were working. Footage from mainline station CCTV cameras was released, 3 years after the event.
  • 2005: Killing of Jean Charles de Menezes - At the inquest the jury was shown some footage of Jean Charles de Menezes from one bus camera and Steve Reynolds, of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, stated that excessive vibrations on the bus meant that other cameras were not working. He also claimed that a workman had stepped on a cable at Stockwell Tube station, preventing recording of any the cameras on platform two, and that no footage was available from the underground train in de Menezes he was killed because the recording unit had been removed as part of the inquiry into the July 7 attacks.[18]
  • 2018: Murder of Jamal Khashoggi - According to Turkish authorities, CCTV footage "was removed from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Turkish staff were abruptly told to take a holiday on the day that journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared while inside the building".[19]
  • 2018: Skripal affair - Lack of footage of the Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury city centre on 4 March 2018.[20]
  • 2019: Jeffrey Epstein/"Suicide"
    • July "suicide attempt" - In January 2020, unnamed court officials claimed that MCC staff had "inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier within the MCC and as a result, video from outside the defendant's cell on July 22-23, 2019 no longer exists."[21]
    • August Jeffrey Epstein/"Suicide" - "It’s claimed there’s no CCTV of jail ‘suicide’"[22] -Reuters cited an unnamed source on August 28 that "Two cameras that malfunctioned outside the jail cell where financier Jeffrey Epstein died as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges have been sent to an FBI crime lab".[23]
In 2022, the Canadian government turned off CCTV of the Freedom Convoy 2022[citation needed]

'Sealed' CCTV footage

  • 1997: Diana Princess of Wales/Death - CCTV footage relevant to the crash is believed to exist, but was not revealed at the inquest. "Pascal Poulain, commander of the Paris Information and Control Centre which was in charge of Alma Tunnel camera, said that they had attempted to manipulate and manoeuvre the camera that night in order to view the scene of the accident, but it was impossible as it appeared that control of the camera had been taken over by another section."[25]
  • 2001: 9-11/Pentagon - The FBI confiscated all CCTV footage from nearby cameras for reasons of "National security", arriving at a nearby gas station "within minutes".[26] Of the Pentagon's (presumably many) CCTV cameras, footage from only a single camera has been released[When?] - and that is missing a crucial frame.
  • 2009: Underwear bombing - Two eyewitnesses report that the alleged perpetrator was allowed on the plane without a passport, after intervention by a handler. Dutch CCTV footage of the event was sealed by US judge, unshown to the public.
  • 2016: Le Monde reported on 22 July 2016, after the Nice truck event a judge ordered that all recordings for 18 hours before the attack, on 1256 CCTV cameras in Nice be erased before being shown to anyone. The mayor refused to grant this demand[27] but it is unknown whether footage was made public.

Incorrect footage

CNN aired CCTV which it claimed were of the 2016 Mass murder in Brussels, but which were of a different incident.


5star.png 26 April 2022 Robin  A very useful collection of pointers to the deceitful ways in which CCTV is used
A very short page, but one with many links to deep events in which CCTV footage was unavailable, lost or falsified.
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  16. Van Heeswyck, Marie-Jeanne; Bulté, Annemie; De Coninck, Douglas; The X-Dossiers, 1999.
  17. Document:The Missing Security Tapes From The World Trade Center