It's Too Soon to Ban Cameraphones
By Eric Lin, Sat Nov 08 00:30:00 GMT 2003

Picturephoning alerted us to two new articles analyzing the place of cameraphones in American society. One of them takes a cautious stance, while the other is much more open, but both make many of the same points.

In many countries around the world, citizens are quite accustomed to being watched on camera, but in the US, residents have more privacy (except in Las Vegas casinos and few other places). Even in
Tampa, where the authorities installed a video system with facial recognition, they had to concede it did not prevent crime, nor did the facial recognition work to solve any crimes, and so dismantled it. For a culture who is not accustomed to being under surveillance, cameraphones, raise new privacy issues.

One of the many points that both articles agree on is that it's not just cameraphones that disrupt the status quo, it is also any of the small readily-available digital cameras. Such technology makes it likely for unnoticeable, instant-on cameras to be present anywhere, anytime in the hands of citizens. While both agree that it's digital cameras that are "disruptive", cameraphones add one more layer of complexity with their ability to immediately share or upload images or video.

The Christian Science Monitor takes the cautious approach. They interview a number of leaders who have banned or are considering bans on cameraphones. Just to be on the safe side, the Sports Club LA has banned using all mobile phones anywhere except for in the lobbies of all their facilities. Initially this sounded to us like too strict a ban, but then it occurred to us how nice it would be nice to not have to listen to someone loudtalking in the locker room or restroom.

Michael Oxley, a US Congressman who is author of a bill to make taking videos or photos of people in compromising states on federal land (including national parks) a crime punishable by up to a year in jail. While this legislation is severe, at least it is not as senseless of the numerous parks and pools (and even companies) around the world that have banned cameraphones altogether.

Despite their difference in bias, both the Christian Science Monitor and Photo Marketing agree that such laws and bans may be over-reacting when social norms will naturally be agreed upon by the majority of the population once they have adopted the technology.