Latest Pointless Law: Requiring Cameraphones To Click When Taking Photos

from the this-again? dept

History is littered with examples of new technologies causing people to freak out. When automobiles were introduced, laws were passed forcing people to walk in front of the cars, waving red flags. Years ago, I read a great article about how when regular film cameras were first introduced, there were regulations against them, due to fears about privacy violations (I could have sworn I wrote about it on Techdirt, but now I can't find it...). It seems that a similar concept may be showing up with cameraphones, as John writes in to let us know of new legislation in Congress that would require all cameraphones to "click" when taking a photo. The idea, of course, is to "protect the children" so that predators can't secretly take photos. The law is similar to one found in South Korea, so it's hardly a new idea -- though it still doesn't make much sense. Someone looking to do something illegal with their cameraphone will easily figure out a way to take silent photos. All this law will actually do is annoy those who have perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to take photos quietly. Hell, you could just as easily come up with some silly scenario how this law would be damaging to children... such as if someone wanted to photograph a predator stalking children without the guy knowing... Anyway, vote on what you think of the law below:


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:31am

    Duh ha duh ha, duh ha ha ha h aha
    New law, babies must be killed at birth to prevent ......


    EVERYTHING!

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    and if you dont think that makes sense, This new law makes about as much sense, Its STUPID!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    and if you dont think that makes sense, This new law makes about as much sense, Its STUPID!

     

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  4.  
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    Rex, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    the real reason government wants cameras to click ...

    ... is so that the police will know when a citizen is taking photos of police Bad Bahavior.

    The answer to that is longer lenses.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    Two words

    noise pollution

     

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  6.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:18am

    So presumably, then,...

    ...they'll want 'phones that can shoot video with sound to make a loud 1930s clockwork cine-camera noise all the time too...?

    'Cos if they don't all the 'phone user has to do is start shooting video (whether or not this produces a click/beep) *before* going into the changing room/wherever...

     

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  7.  
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    Paul, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    while we're at it...

    we should legislate AGAINST those annoying "Say cheeeeze" clicks!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    few questions

    what about real cameras, do they need to make the click sound also. If they it apply to one thing I think it would need to apply to both. it is just as easy to hide a camera under a blanket or in a purse and do the same thing, as part of this bill they should make hidden cameras illegal also, you should also have to annonce it to everyone in the area that you are taking a picture.

    Heres just a guess but wouldn't the stalker stand far enough away where you can't hear the click anyways?

    So congratulations to who ever introduced this, you just found another dumbass idea to waste time and money on,

     

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  9.  
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    Tim, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:22am

    What about video?

    So we're going to have a shutter making a stupid noise whenever we take photos? But what about perverts who decide that rather than just a photo, they want a video of that young girl on the train...

    Obviously the answer is to ensure that all phones have a big flashing red light that goes off when recording video, with a loud voice shouting "Recording in progress. Recording in progress". At least that won't be annoying....

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:29am

    VERB-ALERT

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfQCje-aUck

    A PERVERT IS TAKING YOUR PIC, HES ,,,,,,

     

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  11.  
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    shmengie, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:30am

    well, there does my upskirt photography hobby...

     

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  12.  
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    JJ, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:31am

    Absurd

    This article doesn't even begin to dig into how absurd the law is.

    Why camera phones only? Other, higher-quality digital cameras can still be silent? I can get a nice, tiny digital camera cheap. And of course a $200 HD video camera silently takes 30 pics per second, each of which is higher quality than most cell phone cameras.

    So, perverts will get digital cameras to silently take higher quality photos legally, and the rest of us will be stuck with an obnoxious "feature" on our phones. It's a potentially dangerous feature, too... already I've read several stories of people discreetly taking pictures of criminals (and yes, even sex offenders) on their cameraphones. That won't be possible anymore.

     

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  13.  
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    VideoG, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:37am

    What about video?

    Now all we need is to come up with a sound to make when taking a video!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:44am

    "A VIDEO IS BEING RECORDED"
    "THE ROBBER SEES YOU"
    "THE ROBBER IS NOW A MURDERER"
    "THE PHONE IS BROKE"
    "THE MURDERED GOT AWAY"
    "THE ARSEHOLES THAT MADE THIS LAW ARE SUED"
    "MORE MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN"

    This is a joke, treat it as such. When it becomes law, Someone is getting fired!

     

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  15.  
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    Idiots, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    digital cameras

    As point and shoots get smaller these will be next in the click requirement

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    1) Access your phone's internal file system with Bitpim.
    2) Replace mandatory click noise with blank sound file.
    3) Proceed to take photos silently.
    4) Hit ignorant politician with cluestick.

     

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  17.  
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    Paul`, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    I think something to this effect is in place in Australia too.

    Stopping it is as simple as finding a modding community for your brand of phone, downloading the file system editing tools they all use (if you have a nokia I think you're out of luck) and then deleting the sound file.

    Worked for me anyway.

     

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  18.  
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    John Doe, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    It is ironic that we pass all these laws to protect children once they get outside the womb but they are fair game inside the womb. Oh, except the husband who punches his pregnant wife and causes a miscarriage. He gets to go to jail for murder. Yet the same woman could get an abortion and be applauded for exercising her rights.

     

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  19.  
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    John Doe, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    Maybe they should have the phone play a voice recording rather than a beep. Maybe the phone could say something like this: "Attention Attention, this is a Pervert Alert. I repeat, this is a Pervert Alert, please hide the children, someone is about to take a picture!". Of course this would be quite embarrassing when taking legit pictures but hey, think of the children.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Re: So presumably, then,...

    that would actually be kinda cool as an option!

     

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  21.  
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    Devil's Advocate, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:17am

    On the flip side

    Are any of you parents? Or women? It's not just child predators, it's also perverts who take pictures down women's shirts or up their skirts with the innocuous seeming pretense of texting--you can take pictures in plain site with a camera phone, not quite so much with a camera. Sure, it's not going to stop everyone, and sure it's pretty easy to get around (take the clicking sound off! surreptitiously use an actual camera!) but it is at least a hindrance, and might break stop some people of ideas and habits before they start.

     

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  22.  
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    fat Tony, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:22am

    A great achievement

    Another amazing breakthrough in law coming out of NY.
    This law is being brought into committee now by a NY rep.
    He's "protecting the children" the same way shutting down newsgroups does...or rather does not. The bill is currently in the Committee of Energy and Commerce...
    Fortunately for us that committee has a boatload of more important bills to adjust and foul up. There is a good chance Rep. Amazing from the 3rd (I believe) won't get his bill anywhere.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:22am

    "it's also perverts who take pictures down women's shirts or up their skirts with the innocuous seeming pretense of texting-"

    I'm sorry, but that's just stupid. There's nothing wrong with enjoying what's on display. If you don't want people to see your body parts, then DON'T SHOW THEM!! Wear a Victorian-era outfit.

     

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  24.  
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    The Janitor, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    Cleeeeeeeeck!

    Reminds me of an episode of Scrubs where the Janitor is hiding in the bushes with a digital camera saying, "Cleeeeck!" each time he takes a photo of doctor Cox with his son so he can get him in trouble with his wife/ex-wife.

    Cleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeck!

     

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  25.  
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    jonnyq, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    It seems that 3% of people hit the wrong button by accident.

     

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  26.  
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    Esahc (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    Re: On the flip side

    Umm . . . I have two kids and I appose this, my wife agrees with me.

    In any case, would this law make all current & older phones illegal? Do you have a phone with a camera on it? Can you silence it. Will this law make you a criminal for mearly possessing an older phone?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Makes sense to me.

    It's my understanding that in Japan, a similar law was passed, due to the high incidence of sukebe taking upskirt pictures of schoolgirls.

    The law proposed here sounds both reasonable and sensible.

    I always thought camera phones were stupid anyway.

     

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  28.  
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    sajjon, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Non tech workaround

    I see many tech solutions for getting around this proposition but did not see mention of the simple fix of destroying or disconnecting the speaker.
    Tax funds to create a law...excessive
    Criminals funds to circumvent the law...zero dollars.

     

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  29.  
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    sajjon, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    Re: A great achievement

    I didn't realize this was starting in NY, I imagine this will simply end up as a new tax.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Re: Makes sense to me.

    The law proposed here sounds like it has good intentions, but its neither reasonable or sensible. Its not reasonable or sensible because there can be cases where you'd want it to be silent. Taking pictures of a cute animal in your front lawn? Oops, sound make it run away. Taking pictures of a crime in progress? Ooops, criminal heard you and is now killing you. It is extremely simple, even for non-tech savvy people to circumvent this. Download a modded sound file. Disconnect the speaker wire. Its a waste of time and money. I want my taxes to be going towards worthy pursuits, not foolish pointless things like this.

    If you think its reasonable and sensible to waste money, maybe I'll start to understand a bit better why the economy is the way it is.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:02am

    If a picture is dangerous, what about video? Does this mean we should pass a law requiring anything that is shooting video to also continuously make a noise?

     

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  32.  
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    BulmaRO, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    pure BS

    i hate when politicians propose laws to protect the children to protect theyr electoral results, its just sickening, besides as you said if they can't use camera phones, they still can go back to film cameras, or digital cameras or plain blunt tape to cover the speaker of the phone..

    its stupid, tax-paying-money-waste and sooooooo useless.

    geez.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonguy, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    So true...

    "I'm sorry, but that's just stupid. There's nothing wrong with enjoying what's on display. If you don't want people to see your body parts, then DON'T SHOW THEM!! Wear a Victorian-era outfit."

    I actually lol'd because it soooo true.

     

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  34.  
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    rep smartypants, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: Non tech workaround

    You left out:
    Look on Rep. Smartypants' face when the silently-taken picture appears on Flickr: Priceless!

     

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  35.  
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    Michael Langford, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: On the flip side

    Again, people with "bad" intent will just disconnect the speaker before they go out to take their "bad" pictures, while honest citizens will be to afraid of the noise to take a picture at a critical moment for fear of being heard... hell I would disable my speaker just on principal alone...

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 8:39am

    Why does this only apply to smartphones? Most cameras are digital now so the click can be turned off...

     

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  37.  
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    Mark Rosedale (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Reason to turn off the sound

    I had a digital camera back in college that made a clicking sound by default. The problem was that I tend not to use the flash so if you were indoors (not low light) the shutter speed would increase, meaning that the people posing for the picture needed to stand still longer. The problem was that when they would hear the artificial click they instinctively broke the pose leading to blurry pictures. My solution to the problem was to take off the click altogether rather than try to explain to them why they need to stand still longer.

    So yea there is a perfectly legitimate reason why I would want to turn off the click. Dumb law thought up by dumb people.

     

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  38.  
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    Twinrova, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:12am

    Dear (idiotic) politician:

    I've a Canon digital camera that can zoom from here to the moon perfectly. It does have a slight shutter sound (only to let the user know the camera took the picture), but you wouldn't hear it.

    If I wanted to, I could easily zoom in on your house and take any photo I desire without you even knowing I was there. Then, I'd post on the internet to mock your stupidity for being caught by a "predator".

    So, are you now going to propose we, digital cameras with zoom owners, stand and wave red flags to indicate we're taking pictures?

    Of course you don't, so why are you wasting our taxpayer money on this stupid bill? I would surely think many other things, such as health care, could warrant change much more than a cellphone camera "click".

    I'm beginning to think the older a politician is, the less likely they are to think properly despite years and years of experience.

    Do us, the American people, a favor and resign.

     

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  39.  
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    jaffs, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:14am

    Re:

    Do you just enjoy the sound of your own typing? or are you too busy to read the other comments because you're sooooooo important you have NO time?

     

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  40.  
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    just a guy, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    nice counter example... i would go further to say that it will deter good samaritans from taking pix of suspected criminals without fear of retilations.

     

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  41.  
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    Norm, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Many laws are proposed and not made into law.

    There is not much to think that is one would actually pass muster and get voted in.

    Relax

     

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  42.  
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    M Thompson, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:09am

    Kinda funny...

    Strikes me as funny that you title is as a "useless law"

    I think I read an article on here a while ago (maybe more than 6-7 months) about how someone was in a little coffee shop/doughnut joint and the kid behind the cash register had his cell phone out while he was ringing up an order. There was something about how the writer thought the kids phone had a camera on it... and he might have taken a picture of the credit card numbers... and to be safe the writer canceled his card and got a new number issued to him.

    Now I could be wrong, but I would bet it was here that I read that interesting piece of information.

    At least, with this example... you can see how an audible "click" noise from a camera phone would be a USEFUL thing to have... just in case.

     

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  43.  
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    Danny (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    This is true, I am not making this up to make a point

    Last night my wife and I were trying to take pictures of our new kittens sleeping. They looked very cute.

    But the camera generates an artificial shutter noise (and a noise with the redeye light a moment before the shot). So most every picture caught the kittens reacting to the noise, rather than in their natural position.

     

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  44.  
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    GHynson, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Best option,..

    Is to require PEOPLE to wear Cow Bells,..

     

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  45.  
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    Steve Ballmer, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:28am

    Google sponsored this bill

    I think Google just wants to get more clicks any way they can!

     

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  46.  
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    wnyght, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    why is it ALWAYS about the children. D@mn, it's amazing any of us made it to adulthood with all these "dangers" that are looming over the children everywhere they go. I'm so sick of hearing "what about the children".

    I will let you all in on a little secret. When ever something doesn't make sense, look to see who is making money, or stands to loose money or power from it. There you will find your answers to "WTF?"

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Re: Best option,..

    More cowbell

     

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  48.  
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    Mike (profile), Jan 27th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re: Kinda funny...

    I think I read an article on here a while ago (maybe more than 6-7 months) about how someone was in a little coffee shop/doughnut joint and the kid behind the cash register had his cell phone out while he was ringing up an order. There was something about how the writer thought the kids phone had a camera on it... and he might have taken a picture of the credit card numbers... and to be safe the writer canceled his card and got a new number issued to him.

    Now I could be wrong, but I would bet it was here that I read that interesting piece of information.


    You are, in fact, wrong. We have not written about anything along those lines. In fact, the only post we've written on that topic is how there were fear-mongering reports about such photos being taken, but no proof that it had ever actually happened.

     

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  49.  
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    bubba, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    get rid of the children

    I'd like to see a law where you need a permit to have children. Pass a few "I am probably not insane" tests, take a few classes and you get your permit. This gives you a modest tax credit. You don't need the permit to have children but you dont get the tax credit without it. On the other hand, fail it, and get sterilized and you get it too. Negative retard growth can only help.

     

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  50.  
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    kantill, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Just more proof

    Just more proof that law makers have too much time on their hands. Even if you make all the evil camera phones say "click" you really think that will stop anybody???? I would like to know how many of these people who take these pics dont even silence the phone in the first place.

     

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  51.  
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    Shane, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Father of 2

    I take "quiet" pics with my camera phone every time I'm at one of my childrens' Xmas programs, dance recitals, ball games, etc. Holding up a phone that makes a loud synthetic "click" at many of these events is annoyingly rude! This will just be another law that inconveniences the masses and does nothing to prevent the perps...

     

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  52.  
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    GibsonAV, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 11:37am

    Wonderful

    Wonderful idea. Now the next person who gets in trouble will be willingly breaking 9 laws instead of 8. Way to go guys. Whose idea was this? The anti gun lobbyists?
    Let's see some of that "change" we keep hearing about and get to work on REAL issues.
    And steer clear of the "for the children" button. Never works out for anyone but the media crowd anyway.

     

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  53.  
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    Jimmy The Geek, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    My camera makes a click

    Because of the physical shutter inside. It also weighs about 5 pounds and people mistake me for a photo journalist.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    This law is stupid.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    Ever heard of tape?

    I've got a Sony Ericsson that makes an incredibly loud click when taking pictures. I usually cover the speaker with my finger to keep the entire room from turning around, but a simple piece of tape would muffle the sound much better.

     

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  56.  
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    Rick Sarvas, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    -

    Deft use of an Xacto knife (or similar tool) on the circuit board would solve that problem. My next two questions would be:

    1. would the act of disabling the speaker on a camera now be a criminal offense?
    2. would possession of one of these "neutered" cameras be illegal?

    ah, the moral dilemmas.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Re: -

    better yet, would you be a criminal if your camera phone fell and the speaker broke?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    *Points out that there is alternate firmware available without the sound, even for the Japanese models*

     

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  59.  
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    Kirk, Jan 29th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Polling the Techdirt readers

    Hi Mike,

    If others have made this point, I hope you'll forgive me. The polls you include should say "What Techdirt readers think..." rather than "What People think." I know some will see it as pointless, but if your readers are to be a force for change, they should not forget that their views are not the views of most people. It's important because that realization informs our arguments, and it’s entirely too easy to alienate someone with assumptions about their opinions. We should all keep in mind that most people probably think protecting the children is a good idea; if they didn't, this brand of political folderol would not work. Still: It’s your forum.

    Keep up the good work.

     

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  60.  
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    TheBlackHole, Mar 6th, 2010 @ 9:33pm

    Useless

    This is useless. Might as well make every cellphone have a loud, obnoxious ringtone (RIINNGG!!!!! RINNGG!!!! I'M RINGING, WHY THE ---- WON'T YOU ANSWER ME?! AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH! I WON'T STOP SCREAMING UNTIL YOU ANSWER ME!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) or make all browsers emit a giant explosion sound when they're loaded, scaring kids away from the computer so they can't look at anything even slightly objectionable, and pass all kinds of other laws to keep everyone in a block of carbonite (figuratively) until they're 18. Why not simply make people take a "pervert test" before they can legally have a phone? Then again, my proposed solution will disappoint all those stupid politicians who always think "The more pointless and restricting laws, the better."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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