I was late to my 8:40 class – it was a typical morning.
I was so late I almost ran in front of a student taking pictures around campus with her camera phone. Camera phones, cellular phones with a built-in camera, have become nearly as common as cell phones themselves.
In prehistoric times, around four years ago, Samsung developed the world’s first camera phone, but the product was not available in the United States until 2002. By 2003, camera phones made up only 3 percent of the total amount of cell phones sold in the United States in 2003; that could be because many places have already banned people from using them on their facilities.
Last July, a 20-year-old used his camera phone to take pictures up a woman’s skirt while shopping in a Seattle grocery store. After being charged with voyeurism, the man expressed his panty fetish and claimed to have taken photographs of other women.
The woman no longer wears a dress or a skirt while she shops. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable, his panty fetish or her not being aware of her surroundings.
Recently, moviegoers in Ohio used their cameras to take pictures of the screen during showings of Big Fish. In some places, guards walk through the theater with night-vision goggles to check for camera phones. Other theaters have metal detectors. These actions are unreasonable. Going to a movie shouldn’t be equivalent to going through airport security.
There were also reports of people using their camera phones to take pictures of magazine pages instead of buying the magazine. Verizon charges $2.99 to send 20 picture messages.
That is equivalent to the price of a magazine. It has yet to be determined which is a better bargain. Likewise, camera phones have been banned in schools, clubs, fitness centers and YMCAs in fear of pictures being taken of people under indecent circumstances.
Beginning this year, South Korea, which has one of the world’s highest percentages of cell phone users, will require new camera phones to emit a loud sound whenever pictures or videos are taken.
This development should have been instituted in camera phones from the time they were first created. Unfortunately, this change will most likely not be implemented in U.S cell phones until the end of 2004.
Video cell phones have also turned into a significant tool for journalists. Three weeks ago, the BBC gave some of its staff enhanced video cell phones to supplement traditional television cameras. The phones, capable of recording more than an hour and a half of video, have been used to capture breaking news as it happens.
American media outlets have been fairly quiet on the use on video cell phones for journalistic purposes, although Viacom cited poor quality among the reasons for disuse.
While camera phones continue to face bans, lesser-known camera items, including watches, mp3 players and binoculars, face no privacy restrictions. One could just as easily take a picture of magazine pages with a camera watch or mp3 player than with a cell phone.
Asia continues to be the prime location for cell phone innovations and improvements. This year, the continent is slated to see the release of a Samsung 3.0 megapixel camera phone, as well as the emergence of video cell phones for the consumer market.
Consumer video cell phones will have the ability to record 15 to 30 second clips. These video cell phones shouldn’t be confused with cell phones that can only play video clips, but cannot record. Right now, states such as Pennsylvania have outlawed the videotaping of movies in theaters.
But with a video cell phone, that Seattle man could have actually taped a 15 to 30 second clip of looking up a woman’s skirt or dress instead of simply taking a picture. Bans against video cell phones will occur even more rapidly than their predecessor, camera phones.
Stephanie Young can be reached at email@example.com.