Privacy International warns against phone camera's

By EDRi · November 17, 2004

Privacy International is calling on all manufacturers of phone camera’s to
equip the devices with a default flash, to alert people that their picture
is taken. PI believes this measure is necessary to avoid endemic privacy
abuse. Camera phones are increasingly used to take intimate and private
images without consent, often resulting in embarrassment and harm to
relationships. Such images can also be used as material for blackmail,
revenge and harassment.

Numerous countries have pursued restrictive measures. Only Saudi Arabia
created a complete ban on the devices, other countries such as Australia,
Taiwan, the United States, the UK and Canada have adopted specific rules
to prevent the use in specific places such as changing rooms, swimming
pools and schools. The Ministry of Information and Communication of Korea
decided last year to oblige the manufacturers to make sure the devices
give a mandatory beep of at least 65 decibel whenever a picture is taken.

According to Privacy International, sound warnings, embedded by some
manufacturers, won’t really stop the problem, because the feature can be
disabled or lightly overheard in a noisy environment. On the other hand, a
mandatory flash wouldn’t damage the picture, since the lens aperture can
be regulated by an inbuilt light meter.

Director Simon Davies points out that the threats from phone cameras are
‘substantively greater’ than those arising from conventional photography.
“The ability to covertly capture images and then instantly transmit those
images removes any safeguard for the victim”, he warns.

On Monday 15 November, the international consumer electronics association,
CEA, issued a rather weak phone camera etiquette, advising users to
respect other people’s privacy. According to most manufacturers (excluding
Nokia, not a member of this association) “Camera phones should not be used
in public areas considered “private” by those who use them, for example:
bathrooms, changing rooms, and gym locker rooms.” So much for sauna’s,
swimming pools and beaches, it seems.

Press release Privacy International (16.11.2004)

Think before you click – campaign CEA (15.11.2004)