Camover 2013 - Berlin Anarchist anti-CCTV Protest, Gamified.

From Boing Boing:

The rules of Camover are simple: mobilise a crew and think of a name that starts with "command", "brigade" or "cell", followed by the moniker of a historical figure (Van der Lubbe, a Dutch bricklayer convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in 1933, is one name being used). Then destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can. Concealing your identity, while not essential, is recommended. Finally, video your trail of destruction and post it on the game's website – although even keeping track of the homepage can be a challenge in itself, as it is continually being shut down.

East Germany withered under the punishing, spying gaze of the Stasi, whose surveillance was always couched in the language of "public protection" and "crime solving." Today, the CCTVs used by commercial firms are an extension of government surveillance, because their footage can be seized, often in secret, in the name of "fighting terror" and similar rubrics.

I'm surprised this hasn't generated more discussion, the Choatic Good guy in me thinks that's pretty awesome, but the Lawful Good guy in me finds it awfully destructive.

Since I'm probably firmly Neutral Good, I'm honestly not sure what to think. The whole passage mentioning the Stasi and East Germany is food for thought though, there is precedent there for the misuse of government surveillance. I doubt such a movement would go down as well here or in the US.

I could see a similar movement picking up steam in the UK however, considering the high amount of CCTVs over there.

Yeah, there's very much a cultural bias to be recognised here in terms of the oppressive use of CCTV in Europe. TBH my thoughts on the matter are pretty much the same as yours with the following caveats:

1. There's a large body of evidence that points to the fact that CCTV is almost completely useless in protecting innocent civilians from crime, or even prosecuting perpetrators of crime.

2. On a purely aesthetic level, I love the intersection of civil disobedience, sport, and performance art it embodies.

If they were instead just covering up the lens I'd be more comfortable with it, but I think that would run counter to the whole point of the thing (to cause more than just mere annoyance at having to take something off the cameras).

Redwing wrote:

I'm surprised this hasn't generated more discussion, the Choatic Good guy in me thinks that's pretty awesome, but the Lawful Good guy in me finds it awfully destructive.

Since I'm probably firmly Neutral Good, I'm honestly not sure what to think. The whole passage mentioning the Stasi and East Germany is food for thought though, there is precedent there for the misuse of government surveillance. I doubt such a movement would go down as well here or in the US.

I could see a similar movement picking up steam in the UK however, considering the high amount of CCTVs over there.

Have you ever seen another human being naked? I mean other than when you and your mom share bath time?

I support this. Any time European protests and anarchists an avoid arson and throwing bricks at people, I see this as a step to progress. Please beat cameras with bats. Just no gas bombs at the Calvin Klein in Glasgow.

I see this as an extension in the US and other countries where taggers will cover cameras with paint of stickers.

Seems the site they reference is "500 - Internal Server Error" now.

I imagine anyone who wanted to could probably figure out who posted that youtube video as well so maybe not the wisest way to go about it.

Who pays for these cameras? Until their is a broad social or government change in attitude about them won't they just be fixed/replaced? That in turn is going to be at someone's expense which may have some unpleasant ethical implications on this sort of behaviour.

KingGorilla wrote:

Have you ever seen another human being naked? I mean other than when you and your mom share bath time?

Whoah, what dude? I'll take that as the joke it almost certainly is, but I'm not sure what that even means! Well, I mean, I do... but it's a bit of a non sequitur.

krev82 wrote:

Who pays for these cameras? Until their is a broad social or government change in attitude about them won't they just be fixed/replaced? That in turn is going to be at someone's expense which may have some unpleasant ethical implications on this sort of behaviour.

I think it probably depends a bit of public opinion, there could be a silent majority of people who disapprove of the CCTVs, but not enough to actually do anything about it. But they may object if the local government has to keep spending money to replace them.

I guess it all depends on where the majority of the public places the blame, they may push back enough that the CCTVs don't get replaced. But yes, if it public opinion sways against the anarchists themselves, this will all probably just backfire and cause a crackdown, which is pretty much the opposite of what they're trying to achieve. I don't really know enough about the culture in Germany to even have a vague idea how it will end up playing out though.

This is probably a "get off my lawn" speech, but personally I'm not a big fan of anarchists, whether that's these Camover guys or the anarchists who tore up downtown Seattle a few years back, or the script kiddies who join Anonymous. For all their claims that they're just fighting back against oppression, it seems like they just want to feel self righteous while committing vandalism. It's the average German working stiff with 3 kids to feed who has to shell out to replace those cameras.

I'm not sure if German voters have any recourse, but in certain American states there are ballot initiatives that voters can get passed directly as law. All you need is a certain number of signatures, then the initiative gets voted on in a general election. It's a nice check to state and local government getting too oppressive.

jdzappa wrote:

This is probably a "get off my lawn" speech, but personally I'm not a big fan of anarchists, whether that's these Camover guys or the anarchists who tore up downtown Seattle a few years back, or the script kiddies who join Anonymous. For all their claims that they're just fighting back against oppression, it seems like they just want to feel self righteous while committing vandalism. It's the average German working stiff with 3 kids to feed who has to shell out to replace those cameras.

I'm not sure if German voters have any recourse, but in certain American states there are ballot initiatives that voters can get passed directly as law. All you need is a certain number of signatures, then the initiative gets voted on in a general election. It's a nice check to state and local government getting too oppressive.

I'm a little sympathetic to civil disobedience stuff like in the original video. For whatever its adolescent attitude, it's forcing people to have conversations about CCTV systems, making them more expensive, and generally forcing the issue about how much privacy we actually have in public.

But our PNW brand of anarchists are more prone to this sort of thing:

http://www.katu.com/news/local/Woman...

Breaking bank windows, scaring low-wage employees, etc. I don't think it's going to be long until one of these idiots gets it into their head to start firebombing things. There's supposedly some ideological underpinnings involved, but looking at the videos above, it appears to have become even more muddled than usual as far as ideologues go.

I am not going to go all relative culture on you JD. But taken in the grander scheme of things. The Germans, double for those in the East and especially in Berlin, have some fairly stunted history and growth when it comes to freedom of expression. Mostly, the people of Germany have known dictators and despots. Those in the west have a 50 year head start on those in the East, to be sure. But that memory, and that history of Emperors, Dictators, and the Soviets is pretty fresh.

In the end, I see anarchists in most of Europe as "Going with what you know." I would say the same of the Scottish or Irish anarchists in the UK.

It takes a few hundred years to get it ingrained that civil means can be used as a first, and often only resort. And I am not quite sure if any nation can fully operate on those means. Look at the LA riots in the early 90's. But there is a privilege enjoyed in North America, England, France where there is a good deal of comfort that our governments will listen to us, and act.

There's a German family with three children?

This has repeatedly been referred to as civil disobedience which is just wrong. Civil disobedience is willfully breaking the law without fear of the consequences. Concealing you identity like a coward just turns you into a faceless criminal. Secondly, civil disobedience requires non-violence (some people disagree but they're wrong) and destruction of property is not a non-violent act.

Redwing wrote:

I'm surprised this hasn't generated more discussion.

Because its honestly not very interesting or impressive :/

Destroying a bunch of low lying cameras isn't going to really do much at all to get the conversation started.

Its most likely a drop in the can $$$ wise.

Is it a valid subject? Yea probably but I think I'm pretty much the in the majority when I say I'm fairly indifferent on the subject and this just makes me shrug.

iaintgotnopants wrote:

(some people disagree but they're wrong)

I'm glad you could sort that out for me.

jdzappa wrote:

This is probably a "get off my lawn" speech, but personally I'm not a big fan of anarchists, whether that's these Camover guys or the anarchists who tore up downtown Seattle a few years back, or the script kiddies who join Anonymous. For all their claims that they're just fighting back against oppression, it seems like they just want to feel self righteous while committing vandalism. It's the average German working stiff with 3 kids to feed who has to shell out to replace those cameras.

I don't see why the working stiff would pay for it, these are privately owned and operated cameras that the government regularly seizes the footage of "because terrorism." That said I still think destroying them is the wrong way to bring attention to the problem, and I doubt the anarchists are going to take the time to determine if the owner of a specific camera is one of the businesses that just hands the footage over without a complaint.