At precisely 1 pm Eastern Standard Time on Friday, 7 September 2001, the New York Surveillance Camera Players (NY SCP) performed in front of a webcam installed and operated in Times Square by a privacy-insensitive company called Earthcam. Offered as part of 7s01, an international day of protest against the video surveillance of public places, the NY SCP's half-hour-long performance was watched via the Internet by almost 3,000 people from all over the world, as well as by crowds of people in Times Square itself.
Composed of Bill B, Bill D, Susan, Kristin and newcomer Marion, the NY SCP performed a version of Headline News that had been expanded to take account of such recent events as the exposure of the existence of a super-secret global spying system operated by the USA military and informally known as Echelon. In addition to performing and giving interviews, the members of the NY SCP handed out copies of a flyer written for the occasion.
WHO WE ARE & WHY WE'RE HERE
We're the Surveillance Camera Players, a group formed in New York City in November 1996. We protest against the use of surveillance cameras in public places because these cameras violate our constitutionally protected rights to privacy and free assembly. We manifest our opposition by performing specially adapted plays directly in front of surveillance cameras. We use our visibility -- our public appearances, our interviews with the media, and our web site -- to explode the cynical myth that only those who are "guilty of something" are opposed to being watched by unknown eyes.
We have come to Times Square because the area is filled with surveillance cameras of all kinds and because today is an international day of protest against video surveillance. At exactly 1 pm Eastern Standard Time today, groups from all over the world (the USA, Colombia, England, France, Germany and Turkey) are taking to the streets to call attention to both the omnipresence of public surveillance cameras and the extent of the opposition to them.
Covering the performance were reporters from the Tokyo Broadcasting System; a commercial webzine called Mutation Spotting; and a production company currently producing a series for Japanese Internet TV called "Upstream New York." Contrary to expectations, there were no problems with Earthcam, which sometimes shuts its cameras off when it finds that the NY SCP is standing in front of them, and the New York Police Department, which turned out in force for the group's performance in Times Square on 14 December 2000 and has a history of turning out in force for any SCP performance that has been announced in advance. While the first fact suggests that Earthcam has finally realized that the NY SCP isn't a group to be fucked with (the head of the company was contacted just before the performance by a reporter for Wired News), the second fact suggests that the NYPD has finally realized that the NY SCP isn't a violent group and doesn't pose any threat to "law and order."
First proposed by Aktuelle Kamera, an anti-surveillance group in Bremen, Germany, the 7s01 Day of Action had it roots in and built upon some of the contacts made through a series of international actions undertaken by the NY SCP and the French group Souriez, Vous Etes Filmes on 14 December 2000. Unable to particpate in the 14 December 2000 actions, the German activists in Bremen promised that they would be involved in future demonstrations. In July 2001, they proposed 7 September 2001 as the date of the next international day of action. Adopted and slightly modified by the NY SCP, the proposal was posted on the NY SCP's web site and sent out to anti-surveillance activists all over the world. Eventually, 23 groups in 8 different countries got involved. Among these participants were two brand-new SCP groups: the San Francisco SCP and the Stockholm Surveillance Camera Theatre. The SCP network now exists in three American cities, in a total of four countries, and in tandem with a larger network of anti-surveillance groups in Europe, but especially France and Germany.
Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998