Check Your Cameraphone at the Door
By David Pescovitz, Mon May 17 06:45:00 GMT 2004

The backlash against cameraphones is in full effect.


Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle had a front page article about the rush to ban cameraphones in gym locker rooms, schools, and industrial R&D laboratories. The Chronicle's survey follows news last week that another high school student was busted for cheating using a cameraphone. The student was caught snapping a photo of an exam and sending it to a friend.

Of course, we've covered these issues quite a bit on TheFeature. Most recently, Douglas Rushkoff reported on a bill that just unanimously passed the US Senate to make surreptitious snapshots illegal:

"Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, having the intent to capture an improper image of an individual, knowingly does so and that individual's naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast is depicted in the improper image under circumstances in which that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding such body part or parts, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

Legislatures are also crafting state bills to regulate cameraphone. For example, California State Assembly Member Sarah Reyes has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require that every mobile device "equipped to take or transmit photographic images and... sold in the state after January 1, 2008... emit a distinctive noise or light to indicate when a photographic image is recorded."

While Reyes's bill is clearly aimed at discouraging spy photography before a shot is taken, I'm curious how much impact it would really have. For example, the (optional) camera "shutter" sound on my Treo 600 is easily drowned out by the din of most public spaces. Besides, let's say you're alerted to someone taking your photo without permission. Are you supposed to perform a citizen's arrest? Snatch the phone and punch the paparazzi right in the nose? By then it's probably too late anyway.