times square webcam

At approximately 3:30 pm on Saturday 2 March 2002, the New York Surveillance Camera Players (SCP-New York) performed once again in front of a webcam installed in Times Square by an arrogant and privacy-insensitive company called Earthcam. The SCP-New York continues to single Earthcam out for "negative exposure" because at least three of the nine webcams it operates in Times Square do not "pull back" and show the panorama or spectacle of Times Square itself, but "push in" and focus upon the people who happen to be walking by, and so cross over the line between understandable curiosity and privacy-violating voyeurism. (By far the worst offender is the camera in front of which the SCP-New York performed on 2 March 2002: the so-called "TGIF" camera, which happens to catch a glimpse of a "Thank God It's Friday" (TGIF) restaurant but is actually installed just above reach in front of the 47th Street Digital Camera store on 7th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets.) And yet, despite the fact that the faces of individual people can easily be picked out by three of Earthcam's webcams, none of them are accompanied by signs that warn the passers-by that they are visible to cameras that might be watched by millions of people via the Internet.

Note well that, in the almost two years since the SCP-New York first performed in front of one of its webcams, Earthcam has increased the number of cameras it operation in Times Square from six to nine; increased the speed with which these cameras "re-fresh" their images (from every 15 seconds to every 3 seconds, in the case of the webcam in front of which the SCP-New York most recently performed); and upgraded one of its webcams so that it offers "streaming" (continuous) video images -- all of this without informing the people who live or work in Times Square and so appear on these cameras every day, whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not.

For this unannounced appearance in front of an Earthcam webcam, the SCP-New York performed SCP Headline News, which hadn't been staged since 7 September 2001 when the group helped organize "An International Day Against Video Surveillance." Despite the changes supposedly brought about or made necessary by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, SCP Headline News remains relevant, even if it hasn't been updated to reflect those events. That is to say, it still touches upon the essentials: war; global capitalism; self-avowed President of the United States, George W. Bush; and global warming. As a kind of post-script, the SCP-New York also presented a triptych of images -- NO FACE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE, NO MORE RACIAL PROFILING, NO MORE INVASIONS OF PRIVACY -- taken from You are being watched for your own safety, which the group also performed the last time it performed in front of the "TGIF" webcam.

On this particular occasion, the SCP-New York consisted of Susan, Miranda and two different guys, both named Bill. There were thus a sufficient number of performers so that one of them could exclusively devote his/her efforts to handing out SCP flyers and explaining what was going on to the many people who were interested. Without exception, the response to the performance was positive: the people who stopped to watch -- and, consequently, were asked by the reporters in attendance (see below) about the performance -- voiced their support for what the SCP-New York was saying about privacy rights. None of them called the performance frivolous or naive, or, for that matter, anti-American or traitorous. That is to say, the response clearly contradicted the assertions one finds in the mass media that "the overwhelming majority" of "the American public" or "New Yorkers" are in such a state of panic about "terrorism" and/or the phony "war on terrorism" that they are willing to give up to the state "some" of their basic civil rights for "more" security. And, for the "average person," privacy is defined as a basic civil right, not a privilege or a luxury.

In attendance -- that is, invited to attend -- were Gert van Langendonck, the NY correspondent for the Belgian daily newspaper De Morgen, a photographer working with Gert, and three different groups of grad students making video documentaries about the SCP-New York. Despite the fact that the spectacle of all those cameras quickly drew the attention of a bunch of private security guards employed by the Times Square Business Improvement District, there were no problems at all provided that (because) neither the performers nor the reporters blocked the flow of pedestrians, which was constant and prodigious. A number of passers-by took photographs of their own.

Contact the NY 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

NY Surveillance Camera Players