Published January 28, 2009
That's the noise most cell phones make when you're taking a picture. But it's a fake, prerecorded sound, and you can usually turn it off.
Now one congressman wants to make the clicking, or at least some kind of loud noise, mandatory, and he's introduced a bill to make sure every iPhone, BlackBerry and Razr sounds like an old Hasselblad.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., earlier this month put forward the "Camera Phone Predator Alert Act," which sums up its purpose in one sentence: "To require mobile phones containing digital cameras to make a sound when a photograph is taken."
The reason? "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."
King's brief bill — you can read the entire text here — makes no mention of the far more pervasive phenomenon of "upskirt" photos, in which slightly less creepy pervs get shots of women's underwear, or lack thereof, as the unsuspecting women ride up escalators, descend open-slat stairs or get out of taxis.
Various states and municipalities have passed laws against taking upskirt photos, but many of them have been struck down by courts on the rationale that citizens shouldn't expect privacy protections for things they do in public.
On the other hand, laws regarding photos taken in changing rooms, no matter what the age of the photographee, have been upheld since a right to privacy is expected in those places.
It's not clear how King's bill would change the legal landscape regarding public privacy, but it's not the first time nostalgic legislators have demanded the carry-over of an old mechanical sound onto a new electronic device.
The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008, brought forward by Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., would mandate that electric and hybrid gasoline-electric cars create some sort of artificial engine noise so that blind and other visually impaired people could hear them coming.
King's bill has no co-sponsors and little chance of passage. Towns' bill, which had 80 co-sponsors, got stuck in committee in the just-departed Congress and would have to be re-introduced in the new session.