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16 Feb, 2013 12:45

CCTVandalism: 'Camover' game pokes Big Brother's eye in Germany

Scores and bonuses for destroying CCTV cameras – that's what you get if you play a new 'reality-game' in Germany. The 'Camover' movement is spreading across the country, despite the fact that there's no real prize.

To participate in Camover, players form a team and give it a name – the 'brigade' part seems to be a must – and then go around town destroying CCTV cameras. The process has to be taped and posted online. Each team gets point for the number of destroyed cameras, as well as for creativity of execution.The players are clear about their goals: “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,” the creator of Camover told the Guardian.

The competition ends on February 19, when European Police Congress is to be held in Berlin. There is no real prize for the winner, except for being put in front lines of the protests planned for the days prior to the congress. Still, scores of 'camoverians' have already joined 'the race'. Online Camover page keeps track of all the teams. It's been quite a challenge, however, to keep track of the very game's homepage, as it is continually being shut down. All players are anonymous, and mostly dress in black and cover their faces. They move in quickly, and then immediately disappear. Police have so far been unable to catch any of the CCTV attackers. "It's not an organized group that is causing these crimes. They are some people from the left wing of the political corner. They call for competition in this city, to try and get others involved in destroying cameras," Stefan Redlich of the Berlin police told RT. "I don't think it's Big Brother watching. We have strict laws in Germany. Only the ground you own can be protected with a camera. You are not allowed to point the camera at the public street.”

Germany has strict personal image rights laws – global tech giant Google was forced to censor the faces of anyone whose picture was taken on their street view service, RT's Peter Oliver reported. The 'Camover' message has resonated not just in German society, but across the Western world. The number of CCTVs in public is increasing, especially the young, see it as a threat to their freedoms. The most-surveilled country in Europe is Britain, an example that not everyone in Germany wants to follow. "The amount of CCTV is on the rise, it's not as bad as in some countries for example the UK where millions of cameras have been installed, but it is certainly increasing," Andreas Bogk from the Pirate Party of Germany told RT. "We do support the message [of Camover], but we are not supporters of violence, even it it's violence against things, this violence we don't support." Once a local trend, Camover has now gone global, with 'brigades' reporting successes from all over the world. The newest teams have been formed in US, one of which, the'Barefoot Bandit Brigade,' claimed to have destroyed 17 CCTV cameras in a move of "concrete sabotage against the system of surveillance and control."