Making Cameras Go Click

There’s a bill in Congress—unlikely to go anywhere—to force digital cameras to go “click.” The idea is that this will make surreptitious photography harder:

The bill’s text says that Congress has found that “children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.”

This is so silly it defies comment.

EDITED TO ADD (2/13): Apparently this is already law in Japan.

Posted on February 3, 2009 at 6:08 AM β€’ 82 Comments


Cannonball Jones β€’ February 3, 2009 6:38 AM

Admit it Bruce, you’ve been reduced to fabricating new stories now πŸ™‚

Never mind the fact that it’s totally unenforceable and that any hardware-based restrictions on turning the sound off would be cracked within seconds of the phone hitting the streets. Can you imagine how annoying it’d be? Seriously, if such a law was ever passed in the UK I’d be jailed for assault within a week…

Alpha Prime β€’ February 3, 2009 6:39 AM

As in all cases, this bill has unintended side effects. The ability to take a photo silently may help catch felons in the act where a click would get you shot or worse. Of course, if you are a felon, or a politician, you may want the click to warn you of a camera.

Neil β€’ February 3, 2009 6:45 AM

Not to mention that video cameras can easily be used to take stills. Perhaps they also intend to mandate that video cameras should have to make a continuous whirring noise, like a Super 8 camera?

Anonymous β€’ February 3, 2009 6:52 AM

And mobile video cameras (including those on mobile phones) should go “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” πŸ˜‰

I have one of those β€’ February 3, 2009 7:00 AM

Nokia has done this on at least some of their newer models. There is a fake mechanical click sound every time you use the camera. Actually it’s so slow the sound comes after the picture has been taken, which is just annoying. But what if you are a sleazy upskirt photographer? Select the “Silent” profile, and all sounds are gone, including the camera click!

John β€’ February 3, 2009 7:01 AM

Isn’t this already the case in Japan and some Euro countries? I’d love to get rid of the annoying and crappy “shutter” sound effect on my cameraphone, but have been told I can’t as it’s a legal requirement.

Calum β€’ February 3, 2009 7:04 AM

I used to have a Samsung phone that did this; I seem to recall when investigating it that there are countries that already require phones to do this. You entered something like *#557755#, which got you into the phone’s diagnostic mode, from where you could disable it.

And if I were an upskirt photographer, I can think of far better methods than wandering around with a mobile camera :-/

henare β€’ February 3, 2009 7:17 AM

@I have one of those: Yes, this is the case with my N95 (I’m in Australia but it’s an Asian version) but silent mode does not disable the camera sounds (though you can crack it to get around it).

I agree this defies comment except the fact that as another poster mentioned, this was mandated in Japan and therefore has already begun spreading on mobile phones, including mine (i.e. Australia has no laws to this effect but my phone does it nonetheless).

This means I am loath to take pictures, for example, in a conference setting where taking a picture of an interesting speaker would undoubtedly interrupt the talk. Madness.

Michiel β€’ February 3, 2009 7:19 AM

Actually, the bill specifically mentions cellphone cameras. Not regular cameras. Which makes it even more ridiculous.

I second the vote on forcing digicam manufacturers to add the sound of recording reels turning to all new cam models when recording.

Muffin β€’ February 3, 2009 7:20 AM

As someone pointed out on Slashdot, the real effect of this would be that people couldn’t take (covert) pictures of police brutality etc. at political demonstrations (RNC, anyone?) anymore.

I’m honestly not sure whether that’s the real intent or whether the guy who submitted just wants to be able to point to the things he tried to Protect The Children(tm), but the effect would probably be real – watching the watchers would become more difficult.

Γ‰ibhear β€’ February 3, 2009 7:21 AM

I’ve always been concerned that in 80 years’ time, all cameras will be making a faux mechanical click (or “chuck” as it sounds more often than not), and no one will understand why.

Larry Seltzer β€’ February 3, 2009 7:38 AM

I think this law is insufficiently sensitive to the privacy of deaf people. Perhaps cameras should also be forced to flash.

Thom β€’ February 3, 2009 7:39 AM

I have a pentax k10d, there’s no need to make this digital slr faux click, it’s loud enough to wake the dead. I tested a wireless trigger and I could clearly hear the shutter clunking from 250 feet away. No one’s using this model for detective/spy/surripticious photography.

Tim β€’ February 3, 2009 7:39 AM

This only applies to mobiles because it’s kind of obvious you’re taking pictures if you pull out an actual camera.

Not only would this be really annoying, but it would be easy to get around by using an old/imported phone, or by taking a video.

Thankfully its unlikely to happen.

Eponymous β€’ February 3, 2009 7:42 AM

Children and adolescents? The bulk of upskirts and downblouses victimize grown women. Are their rights and concerns worth less mention than a tiny minority of children? This is more “for the children” sensationalism. What we need is a website devoted to surreptitious “downtie” and “upcoat” photos of congressmen. For the lulz of course.

Pfooti β€’ February 3, 2009 7:54 AM

One of the early commenters on the original article suggested that the law apply to ALL cameras, still or digital. With a whirring or warbling sound surrounding you from closed-circuit cameras and whatnot, you would really understand how much of your life is videotaped.

Paeniteo β€’ February 3, 2009 7:54 AM

@I have one of those: “Nokia has done this on at least some of their newer models.”

They (and others) have been doing this for quite some time. Either a beep or a pseudo-mechanical click. Some people like the sound, or so I’m told.
There is usually an option to turn off the sound (in addition to turning off all sounds of the device). For my Nokia, the option is not at all hidden in the camera’s settings.
The novelty of the bill is that those silent-switches are to be made illegal.

@Muffin: “As someone pointed out on Slashdot, the real effect of this would be that people couldn’t take (covert) pictures of police brutality etc. at political demonstrations (RNC, anyone?) anymore.”

Do you really think that anyone engaged in “brutality at political demonstrations” notices the click sound (but fails to notice the camera itself)?

Baron Dave Romm β€’ February 3, 2009 8:05 AM

My digital camera makes a clicking sound by default, but you can turn it off. Indeed, one of the selling points of the camera was the “Museum Mode” that turned off all sound and flash.

Oh, for the technology on Thunderbirds, which detected anyone photographing the planes…

Tom Welsh β€’ February 3, 2009 8:21 AM

Alpha Prime’s comment was spot on. “Of course, if you are a felon, or a politician, you may want the click to warn you of a camera”.

As Mark Twain observed well over 100 years ago, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress”.

Thomas Jefferson had a similar take. “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first”.

Pinball Wizard β€’ February 3, 2009 8:26 AM


I think that to truly embrace diversity and ensure that people of all disability levels are advised that they are being photographed, we need to ensure that cameras emit an odor.

HJohn β€’ February 3, 2009 8:34 AM

Yeah, and I just read a couple hours ago while drinking my morning cofee that New York banned the use of bug bombs / pest defoggers. I hope it was a mistake, but I haven’t looked it up because I don’t have enough caffeine in my system to deal. Just like the photo issue, something goes wrong, and they ban something, creating 10 more problems. Then they ban something over those 10, creating 100 more.

If they are this silly, and I pray they aren’t but wouldn’t be surprised if they are, once they outlaw silent photos, only outlaws will have silent photos. Outlaws will find a way to take pictures without the click, capturing credit card numbers and improper photos probably more easily since victims will have a false sense of security. And law abiding citizens won’t be able to take a photo of someone committing a crime because they will fear retaliation.

Bruce sums it up in one word: silly.

ricardo cabeza β€’ February 3, 2009 8:36 AM

How did I know there was going to be an “R” after name of the idiot that proposed this law?

Mailman β€’ February 3, 2009 8:39 AM

I heard of a similar law (or bill, or something) in Korea, because people were caught taking pictures in public baths, which are very popular there. I agree however, that it is completely unenforceable.

34 β€’ February 3, 2009 8:52 AM

Yes, the sound is indeed required on all phones in Japan, which is also home to such “protective” practices as women-only train cars. Indeed, the problem of perverted men taking upskirts of (and groping, hence the women-only cars) women on the trains (and, as Eponymous pointed out, most “illicit” pictures -are- taken of grown women, and using “The Children” plea is simply cheap fearmongering) is one that should be addressed, but shouldn’t the focus be more on changing the mindset & attitudes of the people that are inclined to do these in the first place, rather than make a mandatory loud noise when every picture is taken, regardless of subject? Forcing a technological hack “solution” to a sociological problem is never going to work.

Besides, if someone really wants to take sneak pictures, they’ll find a way. Use a different camera/phone, open it up & disable the speaker, or even just cover it up enough that you can’t hear the click. Trains are pretty loud to begin with- it’s unlikely anyone would even notice the sound if muffled and/or masked by a cough or something. The iPhone’s shutter sound, even with the volume on full, can be easily blocked simply by putting your thumb over the bottom left speaker hole.

Roxanne β€’ February 3, 2009 8:55 AM

Shouldn’t the phrase “children and adolescents” be extended to “children, adolescents and politicians”? It would make a lot more sense, then.

It’s CYA, as usual.

DaveB β€’ February 3, 2009 9:09 AM

Didn’t they do this in Korea?

And my first reaction is “Well, that would mess up budding wildlife photographers.”

And how do they propose to retrofit this requirement to existing camera devices?

CGomez β€’ February 3, 2009 9:12 AM

I appreciate that you added the words “unlikely to go anywhere”. Otherwise it would just be spreading paranoia and fearmongering that many bloggers spread when they are perusing the many dead-on-arrival bills that are introduced every year.

Most of them are just stunts so that the relevant representative can go back home and plug the mere fact that they introduced a bill to do such-and-such. Then they can blather on about how they are fighting for it.

Anyways, it is of course a stupid bill, but it is just one of thousands introduced annually with no real chance of being considered.

Mike β€’ February 3, 2009 9:29 AM

I would like to know what the person was thinking who thought putting cameras on cell phones would be a good idea. We have had nothing but problems with cameras on cell phones. My brother is a lawyer. Until this year, cell phones with cameras were banned in court. Fitness centers and gyms all over have banned cell phones with cameras in the locker room. Silly or not, there was a rash of people taking pictures of naked people in locker rooms which led to the ban in the first place.

Anonymous β€’ February 3, 2009 9:37 AM

As mentioned above, the bill specifically targets cellphone cameras – which means if I were to place a camera in something of the form factor of a cell phone (with maybe a simple software interface with which I can “prove” no photos have been taken recently), I’ve not broken the law – meanwhile, people will now be comfortable around this piece of hardware because they’ll assume it’s a phone and must therefore click when it takes a picture.

Albatross β€’ February 3, 2009 9:58 AM

Why stop at “click”? Digital technology allows for a camera which, when you press the button, says


Really, if we’re going to legislate something this stupid, I don’t see any reason to stop at half-measures…

another bruce β€’ February 3, 2009 10:09 AM

she’s my upskirt girl
she’s living in her upskirt world
bet she never had a downskirt guy
bet her mama never told her why…

Scote β€’ February 3, 2009 10:10 AM

“Not to mention that video cameras can easily be used to take stills. Perhaps they also intend to mandate that video cameras should have to make a continuous whirring noise, like a Super 8 camera?”

Well, how about if all surveillance cameras have to give of that sound, including government ones? And be loud enough so you could actually hear the noise in the surveillance area? Put that it in there and I’ll support the cell phone bill πŸ˜›

Thuktun β€’ February 3, 2009 10:10 AM

And if a mechanical, film-based camera is too quiet? Should those be outlawed, too?

I always cringe when I hear politicians making claims of widespread abuses without supplying proof. Just because you can imagine something happening, that doesn’t automatically make it widespread.

Clive Robinson β€’ February 3, 2009 10:34 AM

@ Mike,

“I would like to know what the person was thinking who thought putting cameras on cell phones would be a good idea.”

The same type of person who thought SMS / clock / MP3 player / video player / FM radio / Internet Browser / EMail / Personal organiser / etc / etc.

The simple fact is mobile phones have become like “handbags” anything that can go in will be put in…

In most cases all of these things are very usefull but they are all double edge weapons.

Two of my friends have escaped insurance frauds simply because their camera phone showed the real level of damage to the vehical that “rolled back” into them.

Yes there are places where people have expectations of being left in peace but the paparazzi have shown by now that the “public” will look at any little titbit of even Z-list celebs so realisticaly how long did people expect to remain uneffected by that type of mentality.

We see items in the press about bored CCTV operators following women looking in through open curtains and all sorts of other invasions in peoples lives. In the UK we even have an official snoopers charter (RIPA) for officials to hide behind.

And I’m sorry I know some people will be offended but with all that warning in the press, if “you put something in plain sight” why would you object to it being photographed? You obviously don’t object to it being seen and you can’t claim you don’t know that it’s a possability it will be seen by CCTV / paperazzie / et al ?

If you think that somebody might put a camera down your blowse or up your skirt over your shoulder etc then don’t dress or do things in a way where it will cause you offence if you are photographed etc.

No law or technology is going to stop you being “used” in this way, and the chances of anybody being caught realy depends on how stupid they are.

PackeagedBlue β€’ February 3, 2009 10:38 AM

Camera DRM might exist, which process click status. Pictures allready have camera identification numbers.

Why not have a covert channel of background sounds as ID? A speaker also acts as a microphone.

Lawyers might love the lawsuits of personal injury and whatnot.

Imagine in most public places, sensors to detect and remote tracking of cameras/people. WOW, unheard of.

Measured, weighed and divided. The kingdom is going, going, GONE.

jammit β€’ February 3, 2009 10:52 AM

But if you hear the click, it’s already too late. What we need is a law that requires a camera to make a continuous sound when it’s not taking a picture, only to go silent for a brief time when the picture is being taken. That’s what we really need. Advanced warning.

Clive Robinson β€’ February 3, 2009 11:01 AM

Oh there is a way cameras can be detected but it’s not 100%.

Most people have seen “red eye” in photos “cats eyes” on roads and some have seen “eyes in headlights”.

Most digital cameras do not have a shutter so their silicon based sensor is at the focal point of their lense system. So any light shining in will bounce back along the same path.

If you used a couple of different frequency high powered IR LED sources and modulated them with a PRBS stream you could tell the difference between organic eyes and electronic eyes looking at you.

Such a device would not be that dificult to build.

But there are a number of problems. First a real SLR camera will look like an organic eye untill to late (and most pro cameras are SLRs). Secondly the device might not be able to see the camera due to angle and cover (ie if sensor is on your head and camera is under table etc). Third false alarms from things like motion detectors and fire sensors or even any other electro optic like a clear water LED torch etc.

Although there is a possible work around for the first problem (blur flash) there is not for the second and the false positives from the third are likley to make you paranoid or careless.

L33tminion β€’ February 3, 2009 11:01 AM

Camera-phones always make a sound when taking a picture in Japan (or at least that was my observation). Don’t know if that was a law or just an industry standard.

Nobby Nuts β€’ February 3, 2009 11:30 AM

Quote: This is so silly it defies comment.

Uh, I guess not, there are 45 comments at the moment. Err, no, make that 46 now πŸ˜‰

beads β€’ February 3, 2009 11:37 AM

So two pervs can get together one with a camera phone; the other with a digital recorder that continuously plays the camera sound every few seconds. People tune out the camera sound after a minute or two distracting others while the buddy snaps pictures.

I have to agree this is as flawed and silly as it appears.

Who is going to possibly enforce this law? Oh officer! I heard a cell phone camera noise on the “L”/tunnel/subway! And… You want me to arrest every male on a car with what kind of evidence?

Ummm… yeah.

dot tilde dot β€’ February 3, 2009 11:38 AM

@44 (clive robinson):

similar devices are frequently by the mafiaa in cinemas around the globe.


Mark from FL β€’ February 3, 2009 12:03 PM

All I do when I click pictures with the sound on my camera phone is cough when the sound happens. Nobody ever notices that I’m taking a pic.

Another example of con-gress trying to legislate something they have no clue about.

datenritter β€’ February 3, 2009 12:21 PM

I want surveillance cameras to have a blinking red dot and make “beep beep beep” (as seen in movies and tv). When they turn, they should make “frrrrr” like an old servo motor. That would help our society as it eliminated cameras quickly where they are unwanted – which saves costs. πŸ™‚

Scote β€’ February 3, 2009 12:54 PM

“As silly as adding motor sounds and noises to electric vehicles.”

Actual, no. Not analogous. Virtually silent vehicles are a real safety threat to pedestrians, especially to blind people.

Nick Lancaster β€’ February 3, 2009 1:02 PM

Don’t forget to modify the bill so it’s illegal to hold your thumb over the speaker aperture …

Dr. David Webb, PhD β€’ February 3, 2009 1:18 PM

This isn’t going to help deaf people who are preyed upon, or people indoors who have double glazing.

A Telco Security Dweeb β€’ February 3, 2009 1:20 PM

If we want to protect our children by ensuring that there’s an audible sound when someone uses a digital camera / cell phone to take a picture, clearly, a simple, low-volume “click” cannot be sufficient.

My modest proposal : The law should make it mandatory that all devices capable of taking a digital picture (including, of course, all CCTV cameras in locations like airports, banks, and so on) must be equipped with a 300 decibel fire alarm, plus power pack to enable a noise loud enough to be heard from at least six city blocks away. Clearly, a sound like this would be far preferable from a quiet “click”, from a child safety perspective.

Now, since all CCTV cameras and many digital cameras (and cell phones) have a “movie mode” that can take (typically) 24 frames per second worth of images, we may have to bump up the power pack / battery requirements somewhat, based on further field testing. Or, to deal with the same issue, we could say that the above-mentioned siren only has to be fired off once each second (per 24 frames), instead of on a frame-by-frame basis.

Also, all cell phones and cameras must come equipped with mandatory-use earplugs, plus an optional 10 or so for all those in the vicinity, when one takes a picture.

WHO will debate the necessity of these prudent measures? After all, it’s “for the safety of our children”. Aren’t YOU for the safety of our children? Shame on you, if not.


A Telco Security Dweeb

Another rediculous posting β€’ February 3, 2009 1:54 PM

If law abiding citizens can’t have silent cell phone cameras, then only criminals will have them πŸ˜›

aikimark β€’ February 3, 2009 2:27 PM

Those that don’t understand a subject, like security, shouldn’t be allowed to make laws about the subject.

pau1 β€’ February 3, 2009 2:30 PM

here in cleveland we have a rocket scientist for a council member that wants to outlaw the obvious, texting while driving, while assuring us all the while that “its easier than you think to enforce”. now this.

the answer is quite simple. only allow cell phones to send and receive voice messages. no internet, audio, visual, or other convergence.

please send all grateful comments for this solution to broose at schnier dot net

MarkH β€’ February 3, 2009 3:33 PM

The “click” sound-effect is based on the rapidly fading technology of 20th century film cameras. I suggest that we go nearer the roots of photography, and require that cameras simulate the sound of a large holder for metal or glass photographic plates being slid into a wooden box camera, and the holder’s opaque slide being withdrawn, just before making an exposure. [N.B. Cameras that used a black cloth as the “shutter” were probably rather quiet at the time of the actual exposure.]

But better yet, let us return to the camera obscura, and require photo apparatus to make the scribbling sounds of an artist tracing an image with pencil or charcoal. This sound should persist for at least a few minutes.

But if congress REALLY wishes to benefit the public, I suggest that all guns in the U.S. be required, before each discharge, to make loud sounds (with appropriate time sequencing) simulating the flintlock technology that was common at the beginning of U.S. history, including cocking, use of the ramrod, etc. This would give fair warning of an impending discharge, and would limit firing rates to a few per minute.

Anonymous β€’ February 3, 2009 3:56 PM

Sony Ericssons have the click sound on the firmware.
On my European firmware K750i, there is the click even when the phone is on silent, when I’m taking a photo.
With an Indian or US version of the same phone set to silent, there is not.
The European click is very disturbingly loud too, I’ve been fighting to get that firmware changed for quite a while now…

chas β€’ February 3, 2009 3:56 PM

I just noticed that MY phone clicks when I take a picture. There didn’t seem to be any setting to turn it off. Awareness made me strangely hypersensitive; then I realized I could just turn the volume way down.

Jason β€’ February 3, 2009 4:35 PM

@ DaveB

The R means Republican. A D would be used for Democrat or an I for Independent (I think).

Adrian β€’ February 3, 2009 4:49 PM

I’ve been told by a professional photographer that some judges prohibit the media from using SLR cameras in their courtrooms because the mirror movement is noisy. Yet they allow view cameras because they are nearly silent.

Will it become a crime to offer a service that cuts one of the leads to the speaker in a digital camera?

Alan β€’ February 3, 2009 5:34 PM

So we need this because people with silent cameras can exploit children.

I expect if this passes, within five years we will get a counter-movement to get rid of the click because some patriotic American got shot when a bank robber or terrorist heard the “click” as she tried to snap a photo and email it to the FBI.

dkm β€’ February 3, 2009 6:40 PM

Here in Japan it is since long legally mandatory that the camera in a mobile phone makes a “Shutter” sound.

Aaron Muderick β€’ February 3, 2009 7:00 PM

A few comments:

1) We should require all public and private spaces to be bathed in blisteringly bring near IR light. This will effectively jam all CCD and CMOS camera sensors.

2) When you are a hammer, everything is a nail. When you are a politician, the solution to every problem is a new law.

3) This is so dumb.

Tom M β€’ February 3, 2009 9:12 PM

Peter King, Republican from Long Island, NY, and has already announced he will be running for Senate in 2010 against just appointed Kirsten Gillibrand. This bill will show how tough he is on the perverts.

Actually the sound was first put in digital cameras to let the photographer know the camera was working, since there’s no mechanical shutter sound or physical feedback.

Douglas2 β€’ February 3, 2009 9:53 PM

Even if the law is going nowhere, it is worth bringing it to everyone’s attention so that we can criticize it in the hope that some other misguided law with better chances will either never be proposed or will be thought through.
Let’s for a moment pretend that this IS a pressing need, would it have hurt Mr. King to propose some SPL in dBA rather than

“shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken”

Douglas2 β€’ February 3, 2009 10:04 PM

Even if the law is going nowhere, it is worth bringing it to everyone’s attention so that we can criticize it in the hope that some other misguided law with better chances will either never be proposed or will be thought through.
Let’s for a moment pretend that this IS a pressing need, would it have hurt Mr. King to propose some SPL in dBA rather than:

“shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken”

As an acoustical engineer, I now have to consider every possible place that a photograph could be taken, and be sure that the level of the “shutter” sound is, say, about 15 phon louder than the background noise level.

If I take a NYC subway platform with a train arriving as my background noise level, for example, then given the size and far-proximity frequency response of the transducer involved, I’m pretty much restricted to something with the frequency range and sound level of a rape alarm.

Of course, people will use the same cameras to document momentous events — like the 18,200 photos you can find on with the search “yo-yo inauguration”.

junkh3ap β€’ February 3, 2009 11:21 PM

Blackberry already does this on their own (at least on the 8330). Um, just plugging a headset in nullifies any “security benefits”. Ugh, posturing indeed does suck.

Bill β€’ February 4, 2009 6:19 AM

I took a photo of Bruce on my Nokia, which has a click.

I cleverly used the din of hundreds of fellow delegates to mask the sound as he took to the podium.

Bruce had no idea. Shhhh… our secret.

kangaroo β€’ February 4, 2009 9:50 AM

Since the problem is that cell-phones appear to be phones but can act as almost any other apparatus:

Easier solution — just ban cell-phones all together. Make possessing a phone that can function in any way without being connected to a land-line a criminal offense.

Ahh, yes — that would be the law in my utopia. No driving while talking. No screaming in the elevator by people who don’t understand they’ve walked into a Gauss box. People waiting patiently to communicate, thinking before they try to reach out and touch someone. Would even get rid of annoying clickety-clack at the nearest coffee house — since VoIP would require banning most wireless for laptops.

Truly, it would be a wonderous world.

Yup, we just need a lot more laws like this.

sidelobe β€’ February 4, 2009 12:31 PM

So, if I want to do covert photography, can I still engineer a film camera to have a silent shutter?

Matt from CT β€’ February 4, 2009 1:20 PM

How did I know there was going to be
an “R” after name of the idiot that
proposed this law?

Because they’re mostly harmless compared to the lasting damage done by folks with “D” after their name.

Patrick Leahy and CALEA ring a bell? If it doesn’t, you should look it up. There would’ve been no Bush wiretapping brouhaha without CALEA.

Matt J. β€’ February 4, 2009 5:49 PM

Other countries already have such a law, and cell phone manufacturers comply with it.

Sure, users could modify the phone to suppress the click, but this is not as easy as it sounds, and most would not bother. So silly though it sounds, there is precedent, and the sensationalism of “taking advantage of children” might be enough to get this law passed.

This would be bad, of course, since then legitimate camera phone use will also be suppressed. Someone else already pointed out how valuable it is to turn the shutter noise off for getting evidence, which can and should be acquired surreptitiously.

But never underestimate the ability of Congress to pass a bad law!

Anonymous β€’ February 5, 2009 4:04 AM

The really cute thing is the way all these kids are arguing against this by doing movie plot threats! You’ve got them well trained ! 8^)

Shad β€’ February 5, 2009 4:41 PM

Easy to work around.

1) Hacked firmware. Or firmware for different country. Already mentioned here. Could be even easier with open-source platforms (OpenMoko, Android…).

2) Hardware hack. Cutting wires to the speaker is too permanent measure, as then other functions are affected. A small switch hidden in the battery compartment will do a good job, though. This will work on any phone.

3) Mixed approach. With a single GPIO pin available on some chip on the phone board, we can take a transistor to handle the switching on/off of the sound. Like 2), this handles even the cases when the beep is hardwired.

If it is hardware, it can be hacked.
If it is software, it can be hacked.
If it is user-owned, there’s nothing that can be done about it.
When will the politicos learn?

Curt Sampson β€’ February 8, 2009 9:20 AM

‘The “click” sound-effect is based on the rapidly fading technology of 20th century film cameras.’

Not precisely. The classic “shutter” sound familiar to us all (at least, in recent history) is the sound of both the shutter and the typically much noisier mirror movement of a single-lens reflex, or “SLR” camera, first commonly available in the ’50s and extremely popular by the ’70s. The view through the viewfinder on such cameras is through the lens through which the photo is taken, which has various advantages I won’t get into here. One of the well known (at least in the professional/art world) disadvantages is the amount of noise these cameras make when taking a photo, and various SLRs have, amongst some photographers, been preferred over others for being more quiet.

Non-SLR cameras (rangefinders, etc.) far predate SLR technology, and due to moving only the shutter and not having a mirror, tend to be significantly more quiet. For this reason they are to this day preferred over SLRs by some photographers.

This all applies directly to digital cameras as well; digital SLRs to this day tend to have various advantages over non-SLRs (though this is starting to change in the very high end), and suffer from the same noise issues.

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