Jul 09 2014
Last year I moved to the UK and spend a considerable amount of time in London. Therefore I’m often on 10, 12, 16 or more cameras at any one time. I dislike it intensely, but it was something I knew I’d have to be dealing with when I moved. There’s no evidence that cameras prevent any serious crimes or even less serious ones, and there’s little evidence they’re very useful in catching perpetrators after the fact. They do, however, cause a lot of innocent people to modify their behaviors slightly since they know they’re on camera. It’s a subtle societal shift that most people will never even notice.
But one group has noticed and they’re very actively doing something about it. It’s an anti-surveillance group called Camover that started in Germany and is working its way onto the global scene. I’d never heard of them before yesterday, when Salon wrote a story highlighting their growth into the US. I’m of mixed feelings about this group and their growth; part of me wants to work to change society through lawful means, while another part wants to join in on pulling down the cameras and destroying them where ever they intrude on my ever disappearing privacy. No, I’m not of an anarchist bent at all, am I?
The part that bothers me is that while the members of this group probably see much of what they’re doing as a bit of relatively harmless vandalism, law enforcement probably paints them as felons and terrorists. Yes, terrorists. They’ll be painted as destroying the cameras that protect our freedoms and help catch terrorist. And when they’re caught, they’ll be treated as if they are terrorists, with all the extra-legal, non-judicial treatment that surrounds that designation. It won’t be a fun adventure for them, that much is sure.
I see a need for anarchists like this to rise up and show us that surveillance can be fought. I think we need more people to be aware of exactly how our society is being rapidly turned into a state where our every move is watched and judged. But I don’t think it’s worth risking disappearing into a detention center somewhere, with all of your rights suspended because an agent somewhere decided to label you as a terrorist.