China's Most Watched Intersection Fades To Black

And then there were none... a street intersection in Qingdao, China notorious for its ridiculous cluster of 19 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras is suddenly, inexplicably, thankfully free from Big Brother's prying eyes.

CCTV cameras first rose to fame through their widespread use in London, UK. More recently, use of the devices to remotely monitor public areas has been enthusiastically applied by Chinese authorities. According to NPR, the government has installed over 20 million cameras to assist crime-fighting efforts and, more ominously, to help maintain “social stability.”

Those who state the use of CCTV cameras is intrusive and offends people's right to privacy in public (as opposed to, say, a person's right to publicity in private) surely would blow a gasket at the sight of 19 clustered CCTV cameras mounted on a steel post overlooking the Qingdao intersection.

The bizarre grouping eventually attracted the attention of China's netizens, who gleefully took to social media to mock and ridicule the governmental authorities responsible. Never underestimate the power of Chinese social media: viral posts have resulted in the dismissal of Rolex-wearing bureaucrats among other coups previously unthinkable in the one-party PRC.

It took a while but over the past week, all 19 CCTV cameras have been removed leaving the hangman-style steel post completely bare – perhaps it'll be removed in turn. As the cameras were removed with no explanation (ditto for their installation), it remains for commentators to posit the reason for their unusual conglomeration.

Was it merely a case of central planning gone haywire (“Install 19 CCTV cameras to fulfill our budget, it doesn't matter where”) or, as one Tencent member conjectured, just a practical method of comparing the performance of various brands and models of CCTV cameras in a real-world situation. Yeah, that's the ticket! (via Shanghaiist)