THE Data Protection Commissioner's office is unable to intervene in voyeuristic websites streaming dozens of Irish CCTV and web cameras.
There is a range of websites dedicated to this intrusive practice around the world featuring Irish CCTV footage.
A Russian site which contained a link to 53 Irish cameras was taken down last night.
The streams accessed a number of different types of camera screens in homes and businesses.
People could be seen relaxing on screen in some footage, making it clear that many of the streams are live from private homes.
On some streams children's toys can be seen.
Other links brought users to security footage outside buildings and on farms.
The website has streams it claims are from Dublin, Carlow and Cork.
However, a statement from the office of the Data Protection Commissioner has said there is nothing it can do to stop the intrusive CCTV streams.
"As this website is based outside of Ireland, we would have no powers in relation to requiring takedown of such material," a spokesperson said.
"If a website based here operated by a legitimate organisation was publishing personal data of individuals gleaned illegally from these types of devices, there would be data protection issues which we could pursue."
People have been referred to advice published by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) which advised the use of robust passwords when setting up CCTV systems and webcams.
The ICO urged people to always set up a password and to change default passwords set by manufacturers. And it warned that even footage captured via baby monitors is available on the site.
It is also possible for people to gain access to unsecured laptops and tablets that have connected to the internet, the ICO pointed out.
The site with more than 50 links to Irish CCTV footage stopped operating yesterday afternoon.
It is registered in Russia and it claims that the video available is not hacked nor is the practice illegal.
"Sometimes administrator (possible you too) forgets to set the default password on security surveillance system, online camera or DVR," a statement on the website said.
"This site now contains access only to cameras without a password and it is fully legal. Such online cameras are available for all internet users."
Visitors could select feeds from 136 countries. The United States had more feeds than any other country with over 4,000.
France was next on the list followed by the Netherlands.
The webpage also said that "to remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera default password".
An attempt to contact the site administrators yesterday via an email address supplied did not get a response.
A brief search by the Herald lead to a site which promised to list all default passwords for popular devices.
Meanwhile, another voyeuristic site had two Irish streams.
However, both had been available on the site since 2010.
One of the cameras showed an outside location while another appeared to show an office canteen or staff room.
Several people were clearly visible and identifiable on one of these screens.
In the high-quality feed, people were observed milling around the room, using the kettle or preparing snacks at several points throughout the day.
The site offered a loop of stills taken on the hour for the previous 24 hours.
Specific geolocations linked to the streams were posted below the video.
These were traceable to a Dublin southside city street which is home to a number of office blocks.
Several sites also host public webcams including ones aimed at a Cork beach, a popular Dublin hotel and bar and a city centre college.
On several sites there is the option to select a random camera to watch.