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Anti-surveillance activists turn smashing CCTV cameras into a competitive game

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camover (camover)
camover (camover)

German dissidents are taking gamification and applying it to vandalism in order to protest the rise of surveillance technology in the country. Camover 2013 is a competition unfolding across the country, in which teams attempt to destroy as many CCTV cameras as possible. The Guardian reports that bonus scores are given to the teams that display the most creativity in destruction. In the video invitation below you can see ski-masked "players" (self-described shoplifters, grafiti sprayers, homeless, and squatters) tearing the cameras down with ropes, smashing them out with hammers, and blacking them out with billowing clouds of spray paint. Teams are encouraged to upload their conquests to the Camover website.

Not all reports on the cameras' effectiveness as a deterrent have been favorable

As The Guardian points out, the German debate about the use of surveillance in public spaces has come to the fore in recent years. While CCTV cameras have been in use in the country since the mid–1960s, last year’s Bonn bomb scare and a public midday murder in bustling Alexanderplatz lead the country’s Interior Minister to call for bringing the cameras out of the train stations and onto the street. The Ministry claims they have been shown to reduce crime by as much as 20 percent, although not all reports on the cameras’ effectiveness as a deterrent have been favorable.

The moral and legal concerns associated with the willful destruction of property in the real-world make this much more than a "game," and the creators admit that it's a serious matter. Camover’s anonymous founder tells The Guardian, "although we call it a game, we are quite serious about it: our aim is to destroy as many cameras as possible and to have an influence on video surveillance in our cities." Camover ends on February 16th, three days before the start of the European Police Congress.