Mandating shutter sounds on camera phones

| Comments (3) | DRM Outstanding!
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has introduced the Camera Phone Predator Act that would require camera phones to emit an audible indication whenever a picture is taken:
SEC. 2. FINDING.
Congress finds that children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.

SEC. 3. AUDIBLE SOUND STANDARD.
(a) Requirement- Beginning 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, any mobile phone containing a digital camera that is manufactured for sale in the United States shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken with the camera in such phone. A mobile phone manufactured after such date shall not be equipped with a means of disabling or silencing such tone or sound.
(b) Enforcement by Consumer Product Safety Commission- The requirement in subsection (a) shall be treated as a consumer product safety standard promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under section 7 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2056). A violation of subsection (a) shall be enforced by the Commission under section 19 of such Act (15 U.S.C. 2068).

OK, so the value proposition for this is something like "protects children (think of the children!) from surreptitious photography". Except that it doesn't, because the bill doesn't apply to non-camera phones, which can be made just as small as camera phones, so if you're willing to plonk down $150 or so for a compact camera, you can evade this restriction and get much higher quality pictures. So, we need to sharpen the value proposition somewhat, to something like "protects children from surreptitious photography by people without digital cameras."

And of course, despite the "no disabling" provision, it's not like the tone is an essential function of the camera like the sound of a physical shutter release, it's just a speaker. So, unless you're going to totally redesign the phone, the miscreants can just open the phone, disable the speaker, and go to town. It's true this does render your phone useless as a phone, but seeing as used Motorola Razrs (remember, you don't need to connect it to the network) go for $30 or so on eBay, this isn't much of a problem. We need to revise the value proposition yet again to something like "protects children from surreptitious photography by people without digital cameras or who don't have $30 and a screwdriver."

Actually, it's even worse than that, since newer camera phones will do video recording, it's going to be pretty unacceptable to have it making an annoying noise the whole time it's being used. So, now we've got something like "protects children from surreptitious photography by people without digital cameras or who don't have $30 and a screwdriver, and whose camera phones don't take video." And let's not even talk about people who are willing to replace the software on their phones.

Other than that, this seems like a great idea.

Acknowledgement: I borrowed this argument technique from Allan Schiffman.

3 Comments

"sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone"

that kills it right there... even the lousy camera in the iPhone can take clear pictures hundreds of feet away ...

You have a small typo there, I think that in "the bill doesn't apply to non-camera phones" you meant "non-phone cameras".

Beyond that it's pretty much spot on.

And besides, one of the most annoying things about digital camera usage today is that some people don't turn off the fake shutter sounds, and have their cameras make loud noises whenever they take a picture.
So here is an idea to force even more of this? Blah.

Japan and South Korea have had similar laws on the books for years. It doesn't seem to stop the determined.

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