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New "Game" Encourages Secret Police-Style Spying

| 9 Oct 2009 18:20
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A new online "game" called Internet Eyes is about to launch, offering players a chance to earn money by spying on people through closed-circuit television cameras and reporting them to the police - for real.

Players of Internet Eyes will monitor "thousands" of CCTV cameras, watching for crimes and reporting them to the authorities in hopes of winning monthly cash prizes of up to £1,000 (roughly $1600). The game's website will also feature a gallery of the people busted by Internet Eyes users along with a breakdown of their crimes and which user caught them. Tony Morgan, one of the men behind the scheme, said he and his partners were inspired to launch Internet Eyes by the fact that while the U.K. has roughly 4.2 million CCTV cameras installed throughout the country - a per-capita rate that easily outpaces even that of China - only "one in a thousand" actually gets watched.

"This could turn out to be the best crime prevention weapon there's ever been," Morgan said. "I wanted to combine the serious business of stopping crime with the incentive of winning money."

The game will be free to play, while anyone who wants a camera monitored by Internet Eyes will pay £20 per week for the service. Morgan said he hopes that businesses, "local authorities" and even police forces will eventually take advantage of the service. The game will use cameras in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon when it launches in November, with a country-wide rollout expected soon after.

"Crimes are bound to get missed but this way the cameras will be watched by lots of people 24-hours-a-day. It gives people something better to do than watching Big Brother when everyone is asleep," he said, apparently without a trace of irony. "We've had a lot of interest from local businesses and hope to roll it out nationwide and then worldwide."

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the plan as Morgan, however. Charles Farrier of the group No-CCTV called it "an appalling idea" and said, "It is something which should be nipped in the bud immediately. It will not only encourage a dangerous spying mentality by turning crime into a game but also could lead to dangerous civil rights abuses."

I think "appalling" is a pretty good word for it. In the latter half of the 20th century, East Germany suffered under the incredibly repressive thumb of the Ministry for State Security, better known as the Stasi, a secret police agency famous for the extent to which it monitored the lives of everyday German citizens. Citizen-spies employed by the Stasi reported on each other to such an extent that two decades after reunification, the nation is still struggling to come to terms with the extent of the collusion. And now somebody wants to turn that sort of self-inflicted surveillance into a game?

On the other hand, maybe "appalling" isn't strong enough.

Source: Daily Mail

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