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Silent Camera Phones May Be Banned

 2:03 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Silent Camera Phones May Be Banned [news.cnet.com]
If you think the biggest problem with a camera phone is the poor quality of the photos, a member of Congress might make you think again. Earlier this month, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would ban camera phones from having a silent mode when taking a picture.

The Camera Phone Predator Alert Act (H.R. 414) would "require any mobile phone containing a digital camera to sound a tone whenever a photograph is taken." What's more, the bill would prohibit such handsets from being equipped with a means of disabling or silencing the tone. Enforcement would be through the Consumer Product Safety Commission.



 2:39 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

A good idea. There are clearly instances where photos should not be taken. In my own experience, I was in a meeting and looked up to see a person across the room who appeared to be taking photos with his phone. That meeting was, by it's nature, anonymous -- or had been up the point of someone taking photographs.


 3:01 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)



 3:22 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Surely if someone wants to take pictures without anyone else knowing they could open the phone up and take out the speaker or something just as simple?

Sounds good but hard to enforce.


 3:28 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I don't see that working. For it to be impossible to disable, it would have to be hardware based. That means it would only affect new phones. That would leave a LOT of phones out there that still are capable of taking silent pictures.

Anything OS or file based is easily beatable.

Then you run into the issue that many of the phones come from companies outside the US. Even if those companies make specialized phones for the US that have this capability, it's easy enough to buy other phones online that would likely not have this feature.

It's a good idea, but as others have said, I don't see how they could make it work.

[edited by: Philosopher at 3:28 pm (utc) on Jan. 27, 2009]


 3:37 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

I believe that this is already a requirement in some jurisdictions. A quick search reveals lots of discussion board complaints that the shutter sounds can't be switched off.

I don't know at what point in the manufacturing process the wav files for the shutter sounds are added but this thread suggests that the US market is already exceptional in not having them installed.


 4:31 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not to get too political, but is this REALLY one of the most pressing issues that the new government should be dealing with at this time?

That issue aside, it sounds like another one of those "sounds good on paper" ideas- I agree that it would be difficult to enforce. And how about all those people with older devices that were made before such a requirement? Is it going to be a misdemeanor to use them, or will they be grandfathered? And even if they are grandfathered, there will still be cases where a "criminal" is seen taking silent pictures, the SWAT team is called in, shots are fired, blood is spilled, THEN it is discovered the device in question was grandfathered. Ooops, sorry about your husband ma'am. We thought he was using an illegally quiet photographic device.


 4:47 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

We thought he was using an illegally quiet photographic device.

Thanks for giving me a smile just before I finish work :-)


 5:26 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

require any mobile phone containing a digital camera

Time to un-shelf my camera-that-looks-like-a-mobile-phone invention that I abandoned after they starting putting cameras in phones.


 5:44 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's like using the phone while driving - the law is only enforced/enforceable after the disaster.

In this case, it'll occasionally get enforced after the pictures have spread across the web ...

... speaking of which, how will that work with video? 'beep beep beep' will destroy most memorable minutes.

And if they exempt video, how will they stop people taking a 3-microsecond video silently, in place of an alarmed still photo?


 2:55 am on Jan 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

This sounds INCREDIBLY STUPID! Just what I'd expect from congress.

We go on shooting rampages, taking 5600 pix sometimes at shows over 2 or3 days. I used to have beep on. Now it is just an incredible annoyance, distracting me and others.


 8:19 pm on Jan 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I should think the people who have just lost their homes and jobs are very impressed by this work


 10:25 am on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Cool another money making opportunity for craigslist:
*PHONE SERVICES: Unlock + Jailbreak + Upgrade + Tone Disable - $15


 10:43 am on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Followed by:

For sale - unused "Get Out of Jail Free" card - $50.


 7:02 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

The idea is good but it wouldn't stop the most determined people and would be a royal PITA in many cases. For meetings or performances where people don't want pics to get out it would be great but there to many different scenarios where it just make things to difficult.


 3:13 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

"require any mobile phone containing a digital camera to sound a tone whenever a photograph is taken." What's more, the bill would prohibit such handsets from being equipped with a means of disabling or silencing the tone.

And what about a video camera, what noise must that make?

This congressman is clearly dumber than a box of rocks, but at least I understand that there are apparently no cosignatories to the proposal so he is in a delusion of his own.


 3:30 am on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

What's really hilarious about this is most jurisdictions (USA) in courts or public meetings BAN noisy or sound emitting cameras, ie, the unit must meet a db level test before it can be used to record or photograph those proceedings. What this sounds like is the PRESS/MEDIA does not want the PUBLIC to do their job with phone cameras.

I like cake. I want it, and want to eat it, too!

Then again, maybe our public servants just don't want any more of those upskirt photos being made without a BEEP! at the time of image...


 3:55 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Great Idea for a 'Law & Order' episode where defense Attorney argues with the Judge and DA that a photograph taken by a witness using a cell phone camera of a big wig politician taking a bribe from a lobbyist that led to '.^.' should not be admissible in court as an evidence due to no sound being made by the phone-camera.

OBJECTION Not a 007' Government Regulated Device!


 8:18 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Evidentiary foundation always has to be laid.


 10:16 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Micromanagement via laws in just one country never works, especially not if done after there are millions of phones that do have a silent mode already in the hands of consumers around the world.

Politicians should find a better thing to do with their time.

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