Whether you use your cell phone's camera for business or personal use, most people agree it is a useful feature. Camera phones allow you to send updates and status reports on prices or equipment from out in the field within seconds, and many cameras offer high-enough resolution to print out and put on the wall. Perhaps the most annoying thing about camera phones is the phony shutter snap sound, which thankfully can be turned off. But what if Uncle Sam said that sound was mandatory?
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would institute a ban on silent mode while taking a picture. The King-sponsored bill, which has been referred to the House's Committee on Energy and Commerce, is called the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act (H.R. 414).
Designed to protect children and adolescents who "have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone," the bill requires any camera phone manufactured in the United States to "sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken."
If it passes, any mobile phone or handset manufactured a year after the bill passes would be required to have a clicking sound. Any silencing option would go the way of the dinosaurs: Extinction.
However, the bill currently lacks a co-sponsor.
The bill raises a number of questions and issues in terms of enforcement and general seriousness.
Most people do not pay much attention to the ambient sounds around them, and the general term "tone" does not offer much detail as to volume, intensity or frequency. Are we talking air raid sirens, an even louder, phonier shutter snap or perhaps a digital version of the evergreen (but slightly creepy) request "Say cheese?"
While the issue of child exploitation is no laughing matter, one must pause to consider how valid this issue is at a time when the world economy seems teetering on the brink of collapse.
While the mandatory "audible tone" might prove to be a slight annoyance to those of us who use our camera phones for work or play on a daily basis, it is easy to imagine a large majority of camera phone manufacturers and users would be pleased to see this bill shuttered.