back to article US mulls clicks for cameraphones

Dumb law of the day comes from the US where consideration is being given to making it illegal to sell cameraphones which do not make a click noise when a still picture is taken. The "Camera Phone Predator Alert Act" would forbid selling of phones which have a means to disable or silence the tone. Should the law ever pass it …


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  1. Joe K


    ..and the EU too. I haven't seen a phone that can disable the shutter sound for a couple of years now.

    And during movie mode the LED lights up, making it obvious you are filming.

    Nothing new here, unless you're a yank.

  2. Moep

    Dumb Law of the Day yes.......

    ......but its not the worst i heard in the last month. Since Everything we do is getting online somehow anyway, that law isn´t reasonable at all. If they really don´t want to land on Youtube, make a law against that, or even better, stay at home.

  3. Brett Brennan

    {sigh!} Back to using the Minox then...

    Disco the speaker, wear the Bluetooth headset...done.

    I apologize for the stupidity of our Colonial Government for even letting this see the light of day. On the other hand, England's total attack on photogs seems to be an even more mean-spirited (and violent) attempt to get to the "root cause" of the issue...

    Makes one proud to be human, eh?

  4. Ash
    Thumb Down


    US mobile phones are all out of date and rubbish anyway, thanks to their horrific custom network frequencies. The rest of the world benefits.

    I say let AT&T and other US networks fund development of US handsets from Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, and the other main manufacturers from now on. They don't want to do that? Do what big companies in the US do best, buy a few lobbiests, and get is turned down.

  5. Adrian
    Paris Hilton

    What if

    I want to write an iPhone shutter-sound - $1.99 I think is reasonable. Now to get the Congressman to get the law passed and all those iPhone/iTouch users will be forced,by law, to buy my app. I'm rich,rich I tell you.

    Pauper Paris more like, compared to how rich I'm going to be.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    ...I live in the good old U to the K, where I can go about my surreptitious snapping unhindered by irritating faux-shutter noises. Seriously though I hate fake shutter noises- they're so annoying! It's like the key-press tone that seems to be enabled by default on anything with buttons these days. Man that winds me up.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Cameras are okay then?

    And camcorders?

    The problem is when there's a phone attached?

    I'm sure Paris wouldn't have been caught out the way she was if she could have heard the recording being made....

  8. SkippyBing

    How does this law affect cameras?

    You know the ones that only take photos? You can get some small ones of those, if you wait with one in the right place you can get all sorts of pictures and they won't make a noise.


  9. Dave Cumming
    Thumb Down

    @Joe K

    iPhone with the silence switch on doesn't make a sound when you take a picture, also if you were wearing headphones nobody else would hear it anyway.

    Sure its not that uncommon.

    More to the point, my current CAMERA doesn't make a sound when I take a picture (as I've turned it off) likewise my pocket video camera makes no sound. So why just aim at camera phones?

  10. D@v3

    re: Joe K

    strangely, i don't think i have ever seen a cameraphone that you <can't> turn the shutter sound off, be it in the camera settings, or by changing the 'profile' to some varient of silent.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Ian Ferguson

    Re: Errm...

    The iPhone is completely silent if you flick the little switch to vibrate mode.

    However, you do of course have to thumb repeatedly at the screen to get it to camera mode, wait a good few seconds for it to wake up, then hold the iPhone rock steady in good light to get a remotely passable picture. To do this without the subject's consent would be pretty tricky. And then the result could hardly be called pornographic, when it's just a vague blur which may or may not be a photo...

  13. Mat Child

    Re: Errm..

    I have a Sony Ericsson w960. In silent mode it is just that - silent, no clicks, buzzes or beeps. A bit annoying actually cos you can't hear when it's finished auto focussing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disabling shutter sound

    When I last bought a camera, in the UK, there was an extra slip of paper in the box telling you how to disable the shutter sound forever by holding down certain buttons while switching it on, or something like that. The manual doesn't mention this option. Presumably the extra slip of paper is added only in the boxes shipped to certain countries.

    So, just because the manual doesn't tell you how to do it, doesn't mean you can't. If the stupid simulated shutter sound is annoying you, try Google.

  15. Danny
    Paris Hilton

    works on my omnia

    You can take the shutter sound off my omnia. Even silence the phone but not the ring tone if you like.

    stoopid yanks

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good way to Force people to buy new phones!

    Well in the UK I just tested my phone and both the flash and click sound can be turned off !

    That is on a new model nokia phone!

    What will they do about people who have phones which do not comply with these laws if passed? arrest them on sight?

    Will the mad laws never stop?

  17. Martin Lyne


    CCTV cameras are all going to wave and say "Hello, I'm filming you becuase we presume you are all guilty of something, we just need to catch you doing it before we fine you!"

    They're a government, they don't feel like their doing their job if they aren't introducing unnecessary laws.

  18. Jimbo09990

    what next...

    I know

    Ban silencers on guns, that's going to help people know they have been shot!

    Or what about laser pointers attached to CCTV cameras so the person being watched knows they are being spied on and exploited!

  19. Test Man

    No shutter sound on Nokia phones

    There used to be an option to turn the shutter sound off, way back on the 7250, but that was taken out of later phones. All my Nokias since though (6230, N70, N95) have allowed me to turn the sound off by simply selecting the "Meeting" profile.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Silent cure

    I have a cunning workaround. An easel and paintbrush should be reasonably silent. My surreptitious shots are safe - only problem is the whole set up might take time and be somewhat visible to my would-be target.

    I'm not saying it's without its flaws to be ironed out

  21. Seán


    Well done Joe K inventing a whole load of bullshit for no reason.

  22. Parax


    Im with D@v3,

    i don't think i have ever seen a cameraphone that you <can't> turn the shutter sound off, be it in the camera settings, or by changing the 'profile' to some varient of silent.

    even my brand new samsung can have no shutter sound setting...

    This is by far the daftest law I have heard of in a country that allows guns... Blame the tools for camera crimes and the user for gun crime [Only in America! - for Stephen Fry]

  23. Gaz

    Substitute silence

    I have a windows mobile smartphone and it comes with the option of camera click noises but no off option. However, you can add your own sounds. All you have to do is just add an .mp3 of SILENCE. LOL, morons and their stupid laws seem to be plentiful.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, what about CCTV?

    Whenever you walk through a train station you hear some 300 clicks -- machine-gun-style repeating... *smile*

  25. Darling Petunia


    Congressman King is an idiot and is trying to tug on every 'cause' to get re-elected.

  26. Luke


    I know they have this law in Korea - I think it is Samsung phones where it impossible to turn off the camera noise - also has to be above a certain decibel level as well? Never owned a Samsung though and all my old handsets have been silent when asked.

    As usual, this law will punish the 99.9% of people who just want a quiet phone - and will be pretty easily bypassed by the people whose hobby is sneaking blurry upskirt pics (disconnect/break speaker or European/Asian handset). So by that logic, I expect this law to be adopted here in the UK also by Christmas.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what about cameras?

    some of those are pretty quiet.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    k750i does not allow switching off of the shutter noise.

    It's very annoying and seems to me to be completely unnecessary. Spontaneous photos are impossible to take with it, as everybody looks at the damned camera.

  29. JC

    I agree with that 100%

    No good reason why people should be sneaking around taking pictures. When civility fails, law has to intervene. If it's a problem for a camera to alert the subject that they're having a picture taken, the problem is the user of the camera.

    Those who don't like this law, lead by example in your life so it isn't necessary. Apparently as mentioned they do have justification, or at least a perception of it. If it truely isn't necessary then it would be folly to consider it compared to repeal of other laws that are far more detrimental to societal freedom (or whatever illusion of that you hold when it seems a click sound is important to disable).

    To Parax who tried to equate this to guns in America. Silencers for those aren't quite legal either, fortunately so, as this means it is a bit more likely someone snapping pictures stealthily might be pummeled instead of shot.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wouldn't a suitably motivated pervert simply disable the speaker on the phone, perhaps by poking it out with a pin?

  31. Tim

    Nokia silenced

    Following thorough investigations I can report that my Nokia 6070 has a option of camera sounds. These are now set to off so I'm heading out for an evening of upskirt thrills. However, I must hurry up and get to the skirt shop before it shuts.

    Oh, has anyone else noticed their mobile pictures always have part of a thumb visible on them? I presume it is some sort of biometric feature.


  32. Bounty


    Here in the US this law discriminates against hot fluzy pantyless deaf chicks. So I'm promoting the idea that phones (and cameras, etc.) should emit a piercing sound, blinding light and pungent smell everytime you're about to take a video, a picture or turn on the microphone. Yes, this would be a little annoying everytime you're about to make or receive a call, but it's for the children.



    At least every picture you take would be funny, watching everyone gag, hold up their hands to the light etc. Maybe I should add a lazer at the focal point... maybe some sort of heat or freeze ray? This would be extra cool in the UK where there are CCTV's everywhere.

  33. Carrie

    Canada clicks

    Canada here - all phones click when you take a pic, and have for years. i've tried turning off the click on my sony ericsson K790 - no go.

    Presumably, the reason for targeting PHONES is because anyone knows when a camera is being pointed at them, but phones are not as obvious, duh.

    Paris - she may not know the diff btwn a cam and a phone.

  34. Simon Harris

    @Joe_K et al.

    To add to the list, the Sony Ericsson k850i camera is silent if you set the phone ringer to vibrate only.

  35. Charles Smith
    Paris Hilton


    Where can I buy a tiny button device that mimics the sound of a mobile phone camera "shutter".

    In Changing Rooms, escalators etc etc "Click" " Click"

  36. JohnP

    to all

    Wthere your ohone allows for the disabling of camera sounds, or displays an LED light when video recording etc, depends on which country it was originally shipped to. Some countries (including some EU ones) already have similiar laws, though they tend to apply to all picture/video taking devices, not just phones.

  37. Anonymous Coward


    "No good reason why people should be sneaking around taking pictures"

    I don't need a reason, other than photography being my hobby. Taking pictures of people in public is perfectly legal (at least in the UK) and I don't have to get permission, notify the subject or give a "good reason". I'm pretty sure that "sneaking around" is not actually illegal either. It sounds like your complaint is that YOU don't like having your picture taken.

    Why are you sneaking around avoiding having your picture taken? What are you up to?

    "If it's a problem for a camera to alert the subject that they're having a picture taken, the problem is the user of the camera."

    No. The problem is that the camera is of poor design and useability and therefore I wouldn't purchase it. I often photograph wild animals. Shutter noise disturbs them. They behave unnaturally or just disappear if they know you are there. The reason I turn off the shutter is that I get more shots and I get more natural shots. This applies to phone cameras too. Sometimes it's the only camera handy when a good photo-op turns up unexpectedly, thus turning off the shutter noise is essential.

    Conflating photographers who wish to remain unnoticed with perverts is simplistic and frankly obtuse.

  38. Joel Bjorge

    will never pass

    This isn't a new law or even serious attempt to make it one, just a Bill submitted to a committee with no co-sponsor that will die long before it ever gets a single vote. The only reason it was put out there was so this idiot from New York can list it as something he actually did when he tries to get re-elected.

  39. Steve

    Wait for the lawsuit

    when some tourist in the rockies sees a bear and thinks "hey, Ma, lookie there". <LOUDCLICK> <Grrroooaaar....munch>

    Surprised they haven't just legislated some sort of Miranda rights; anyone taking a photo must inform the subject that they have the right to see the photo, and if they choose not to do so then the photo may be used against them on a pr0n website.

  40. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Shutter sounds; K750i

    Shutter sounds are annoying. The only people they inconvenience are people legitimately using cameras and camera phones. There are plenty of legitimate places for me to take photos, but I am unable to do so because the loud crap sound will not only disturb others around me, but most likely arouse their ire as well.

    Criminals using the phones for nefarious purposes will just disable the shutter sound in whatever fashion is necessary.

    Stupid, stupid law. How about we just beat the fuck out of people who use their cameras and camera phones for perverted practices? Yeah, not much better, but it would get the point across without causing problems for non-asshole people who want to take pictures of a skittish animal, without waking up a baby, or fecking off library patrons.

    BTW, there is a way to disable the shutter sounds in the CyberShot phones, but it requires firmware (the gdfs specifically, I believe) to do so. Check out XS++ and Wotan. But do not come crying to me if you brick your phone... read the instructions CAREFULLY.

    Paris, no was to disable her shutter sound.

  41. Peyton

    I've got a Korean phone

    A loverly Samsung iPhony - if you put it on vibrate/silent - no camera clicky noise.

    I'm curious if these laws have been "successful" in Asia (and by successful I mean - have they had any impact on this rampant? crime?)

  42. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Didn't know it was an option...

    Well, as I see in the comments, it is, but I didn't know it was even an option to disable. They passed a law like this already in Japan I think, to stop the train hentais from taking up-skirt camera photos with their phones. I haven't tried too hard to look, but I didn't realize there were still noise-free cameras available here.


    I agree! Those squishy-fake mouse click noises PISS ME OFF!!! Arghhhh!


  43. Phil


    I've had 2 K750i s... Both bought on ebay, the first was canadian and it had no way to turn off the shutter sound, the second was french and you just select the SILENT profile to make it completely, well, silent.

  44. Clayton

    What about video?

    I suggest that for video capable cameraphones, they must be fitted with a large crank that must be turned while video is taken, like on an old-timey film camera.

  45. Anonymous Coward


    "I agree with that 100% "

    Would you agree, also, to the same for any digital imaging device?

    Are you a Liberal?

    Seems so you appear all-too-willing to sacrifice individual freedoms so that the masses can obtain a little temporary safety.


  46. Herby

    All this reminds me of...

    The Bill Cosby doorbell. He wanted one that would say "SOMEONE IS AT THE DOOR" with proper volume, when the doorbell button is pressed.

    For me, I'd just get a simple "annoy-a-tron" ( and make it make the "click" sound at random intervals, and leave it in a dressing room (after the bill goes into effect!). Then wait for the fun to begin at the department store.

    My current problem is that the new camera I just purchased for Christmas won't lock on the flash for all pictures (for fill lighting), but that is another story.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Bounty

    Giggling like a retard after reading that - coworkers think I have finally lost the plot

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't they?

    At least make the shutter noise less irritating? Or at least sound like a shutter. I had a samsung that made the noise a doorbell makes when you take a picture.

  49. Wize

    Forget the phone sounds... do we make the mirror on a stick make a noise?

  50. Eric Crippen

    I don't get it...

    It's much better to spend some money on a small high-megapixel camera, remove the tiny little speaker (if you can't turn it off) and then use it. They're just about the same size as cell phones anyways.

    I have a rather large digital camera at work with the sound turned off. It's damn annoying. Everytime some idiot borrows it, the sound is back on. I'd open the thing up and remove the little speaker if it wasn't for the fact that it's not mine (in which case it wouldn't get borrowed).

    I can't see the point of this law in the states, since most camera phones are in the 1 megapixel range and usually suck. Like I really want to see some VGA pic when it's just as easy to go online and download some higher quality staged pic.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't go far enough

    I think law should require people to make a whooping noise whenever they see something, err, inappropriate. Women can't wolf whistle, hence the whooping.

  52. Simon B

    PMSL - USA madness strikes again

    PMSL, I see the USA is on form already this year for completely stupid ideas.

  53. James Green

    Poor wording

    "The "Camera Phone Predator Alert Act" would forbid selling of phones which have a means to disable or silence the tone."

    Surely the "have a means" should be "provide a means". All phones have the means to disable or silence the tone, as someone's pointed out you can unscrew the back and remove/disconnect the speaker. So now all mobile phones are going to be illegal in the US.

  54. Nick Pettefar


    I took my Nokia into the school showers to take pictures but it stopped working. I think the water got into it.

    Could I have my money back please?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parents will think this is wonderful

    ...right up until all the quiet bits of a school play or music recital get interrupted by faux shutter noises. (Parents who can't work out how to turn off a flash are bad enough.)

    Incidentally, the reason that people might think of applying this to camera phones rather than just cameras is that someone holding a camera is obviously in a position to take a photograph. Someone on a tube train with a camera phone can just look like they're making a phone call (rather than trying to take blurry, grainy, out-of-focus shots up someone's skirt).

    But it's still a dumb idea. I'm also inclined to take photographs of wildlife, including sleeping pets, in aesthetic places of worship, and - should I see one - would quite like to be able to take a quiet picture of a crime in progress without putting my life at risk. Taking stealth photographs in locker rooms might require more forethought if phones go beep, but it's hardly going to become impossible to hide cameras all of a sudden - unless a lot of undercover reporters are going to be in trouble.

  56. Dave Jones

    Congresscritters do this a lot

    Ignore this. King is just trying to keep some constituents happy and not look "soft on pervs". This kind of thing happens a lot, since the individual representative is not beholden to his national party the way MP's are enslaved by the Parliamentary party. The bill will go into committee and never be seen again (unless it pops up as a clause in some Omnibus Keep The Bluenoses Happy bill later).

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