US moves to ban furtive photos


The US has moved a step closer towards imposing controls on camera phones.

A bill banning so-called up-skirt photos and other forms of voyeurism has made further progress through the political machinery in Washington.

It would make the taking of covert photos in places like locker rooms or bedrooms a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and fines.

The popularity of small mobiles with cameras has made it much easier to take illicit photos without permission.

National governments, local authorities and some businesses are starting to restrict the places these devices can be used due to privacy fears.

In the US, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has unanimously voted to support the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act.

The bill was passed by the Senate last September and now goes to the House of Representatives, which is expected to follow suit.

“This bill targets the pernicious practice of invading a person’s privacy through the surreptitious use of hidden or concealed surveillance equipment,” said Republican Representative Howard Coble.

There have been cases around the world of people using camera phones to take illicit photographs and more public places are moving to ban their use.

In Japan, some fitness centres ban the use of camera phones and the Italian information commissioner has issued guidelines on where and how such phones can be used.

In the UK, several councils have taken action to stop such phones being used in schools, leisure centres and swimming pools.



Parents voice fears over 3G phones


Concern has been expressed by parents over the new generation of web and video messaging mobile phones. A survey for children’s charity NCH found that 87% of parents questioned in Scotland believe the new 3G models will be difficult to supervise.

NCH wants providers to ensure that each handset used by a child has filtering and screening software installed.

It is also demanding that internet access on mobile phones should be classified as an adult service.

The NOP poll, commissioned by NCH, also found 86% of parents feared the new phones could threaten the safety of children – compared with the UK average of 73%.

And the survey found 64% of parents “strongly agree” it was a cause for concern, against a national average of 49%.

NCH internet adviser John Carr said: “This poll is the first concrete evidence that there is a great deal of anxiety and worry among parents about the arrival of the next generation of telephones with internet access. NCH believes this throws down a major challenge to the mobile phone operators.

“If they want these phones to take off in the youth market, they are going to have to convince a lot of parents that they are safe, or can be made safe.”