Bye Bye Spy Cam

Have you ever feared that the person sitting across from you on the subway wasn’t innocently looking at their phone, but rather silently taking cameraphone pictures of you?  Or perhaps you’ve found yourself in a situation where you had to cleverly and nonchalantly snap a photo and send it to your friends with a funny caption attacehd.  Well, thanks to a bill before congress, this sort of activity may be squashed.

A bill has been sent to congress that will require manufacturers of cameraphones to incorporate a sound with the taking of a picture to allow suspicious subjects to know who’s photographing them.  Most camera phones already have this feature, but the feature can usually be turned off for silent photography.

If passed the sound will be mandatory, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission would have to determine what types of sounds qualified, as well as a “reasonable radius” in which it could be heard.

This article on Ars Technica has good information about this bill, but proposes some what I found to be rather non-important information and suggestions.  Author Matthew Lasar introduces some facts about how many teenagers use cameraphones to share rather revealing or explicit pictures of themselves with friends, or even the entire Internet community.  Lasar then suggests that cameraphone manufacturers allow users to customize the sound their camera shutter would make.

First off, the issue at hand is hardly about taking pictures of one’s self.  The whole point of having a sound would be to alert others to your surruptitious photo snapping, so sharing data about teens who post pictures of themselves is irrelevent.  

Secondly, allowing custom shutter sounds would defeat the purpose (which the author clearly missed).  Any user wishing to again silence their cameraphone could simply change the sound to the sound of silence (no, not the Paul Simon tune).  

Now on a serious note, this is an important issue to discuss in today’s world of technology.  Cameras are getting smaller and smaller but picture quality is not suffering, and while these advances in technology let us legitimatly take great pictures with compact cameras and cameraphones, it is certainly abused.  

But is forcing manufacturers to disable silencing shutter sounds the right answer?  Sound or no sound, if some one wants to take a picture of you at close range, they are going to do it, whether that means covering the speaker on the phone or coughing or by taking the picture in a loud environment.  The only way to get around that would be to make the sound deafening, but that would be rediculous and that is not going to happen.  

This will likely not pass, but if it is taken seriously it could.  Even so, I don’t feel that cameraphone sounds are going to keep predators from taking creepy pictures.  Even the non-predator, just-taking-this-for-fun, look-at-what-this-guy-is-wearing kind of pictures would still be taken.


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