Camera Destruction Campaign Failing

By Carlton Purvis, Published Mar 19, 2014, 12:00am EDT

An anarchist campaign in Germany to destroy surveillance cameras spread through Europe and to the United States. But for the most part the movement seems to have burned off its momentum. Is Camover over?

Don’t know what Camover is? Take a look at their promo video:

We spoke with an organizer to better understand what was happening now and why.

The First Camover

Camover began in Berlin as an anarchist game leading up to the 2013 European Police Conference [link no longer available]. The objective of the game was to destroy as many surveillance cameras as possible leading up to the start of the conference on February 19th, 2013.

In January, the Camover site went live with the rules of the game: A group’s name must have a name that “that starts with command…briagde…etc. and ends with a historic person.” They must provide documentation of the cameras destroyed in the form of news reports and get extra points for video or pictures. Winners would be recognized for the most cameras destroyed and the most creative methods of destruction.

Over the following two months, the site received around a dozen reports, including one from Washington state where 17 cameras were pulled down by a group calling themselves the Barefoot Bandit Brigade.

They released this photo, which look like mostly private cameras.

Recent Operations

After the police conference, the site went silent. Sporadically on blogs and forums people have tried to revamp the effort. So far the most consistent has been a Facebook page for Camover that has seen activity as recent as last week -- no reports of vandalized cameras, however.

The most recent operations said to be inspired by Camover happened in Oakland earlier this month as part of the domain awareness center protests. The field of view for several cameras was obscured by pink spray paint:

How Cameras are Destroyed

The site lists a number of methods to destroy cameras for game participants (a magazine called Colors has illustrated them for this month's issue). They include obscuring cameras with plastic bags, paint, cable cutting and ripping them down. From Cameover's own reports and media reports, around 100 cameras were destroyed worldwide as part of the game, a tiny number in comparison to the millions of cameras deployed in the world.

The Future of the Camover

Judging by its online presence, Camover seems to be pretty much done. Since last February the incidents have been disorganized and sporadic.

A former U.S. Camover “organizer” and graffiti artist I spoke to says he planned to take out cameras in New Orleans last year, but eventually changed his mind. He’s said he is torn on the topic.

“In New Orleans it’s different,” he said. “It’s not like in Oakland where the government is trying to spy on everyone. Most of the cameras are little mom and pop shops that don’t want to get robbed. We could take their cameras because overall they still are supporting a government agenda, but the cost would be felt by the business owners not the government.”

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