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Bill deserves a SWAT with a silent camera phone

Submitted by on Thursday, 29 January 2009 4 Comments

Perhaps New York Rep. Peter T. King was on “Go, Diego, Go” overload and went to the Capitol one day with “say click, take a pic” running through his head.

Oh my gosh! Camera phones don’t click! We must do something about that.”

That’s about as rational an explanation as any for King’s HR 414, “The Camera Phone Predator Act.” It would require that all camera phones produce an audible click when an image is snapped.

The bill is mercifully short, so at least it’s not killing a lot of trees. There are no co-sponsors so far, so at least it’s not drawing a lot of attention.

The most curious part is in its “finding” section:

“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.”

Apparently there’s an unreported epidemic of stalkers photographic young children with their camera phones. I know newspapers are struggling with staff shortages in this economy, but I somehow doubt this would have escaped the attention of everyone but one Republican from New York.

“Camera phone technology has become another one of the many avenues through which child predators prey on children, and I believe we must do all we can to deter this behavior and protect the children in our communities,” King said in an e-mail to ABCNews.com. “I introduced the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act so that parents and children can be alerted when these criminals try to exploit our children in public places.”

Let’s analyze that statement for a minute.

First off, it’s perfectly legal to take pictures in public places, though a legitimate photographer is going to talk to the subject most of the time. Unless, of course, the photographer is a private detective or investigative journalist trying to catch someone doing something they’re not supposed to be doing

What would King have people do when camera-phone clicks notify them that their picture was being taken? Assail the photographer and trash the phone? Sounds like an assault charge to me.

Secondly, while camera-phone technology has dramatically improved, it’s no where near the quality that a perv could capture with a normal camera with an average telephoto lens.

As for the alleged dressing-room problem, it’s already illegal in most states to photograph people where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Places such as restrooms, changing rooms and dressing rooms. Additionally, it’s illegal in many states to take hidden-camera pictures for the purpose of sexual gratification or exploitation of children.

What, then, would  King’s bill accomplish?

It would force manufacturers to add features to camera phones for which they could charge consumers extra. But it wouldn’t stop predators even if silent camera phones were their weapons of choice, because the proposal does nothing to address cell-phone video.

Not to rush to judgment, but it appears King is either a grandstander, a Luddite or in the pocket of phone manufacturers.

The campaign finance database at OpenSecrets.org says manufacturers were not among King’s major contributors last year, though documents on file with the Federal Election Commission indicate that Lou Holtz likes him.

“Professional gamers” appear to be fans as well. No word as to whether the four who made donations are gamers as in poker and slots or gamers as in Wii, but I’d bet on the former.

If they are indeed the latter, I’m hoping the donors can contribute a technological education instead of money the next time.

Meanwhile, Stop Wasting America’s Time, Rep. King.

Know of someone who deserves a SWAT? Click here to make a nomination.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Genevieve said:

    LOL at the first paragraph. I heard the camera singing in my head.

  • Debra said:

    It’s right up there with “back pack, back pack.:


  • Rob McAlister said:

    Swiper, no swiping!

    I guess this guy is bored with absolutely nothing to do so he’s trying to make somebody do something about nothing so that he can justify his nothingness.

    Maybe he can come up a real cause and maybe we’ll stop laughing at him.

  • Debra said:

    If there’s a place you need to go, I’m the one you need to know, I’m a map!

    OK, who has the next Dora or Diego tidbit?

    You’re absolutely right, Rob, and I felt a bit bad about aiding and abetting the nothingness by even blogging about it. But some things are just so ridiculous they must be revealed, if for other reason than entertainment.