No Need for Extra Legislation for Mobile Phone Cameras

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) today said there is no need for additional laws to protect Australians from the inappropriate use of mobile phone cameras.

AMTA CEO Graham Chalker was responding to calls by Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls for a national taskforce to “tackle the use of mobile phone cameras”. The issue is to be discussed by the Standing Committee of Attorney-Generals in Canberra today.

“AMTA supports measures to enforce existing laws to protect people from misuse of mobile phones that can send images,” he said.

Under the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 - Part VIIB, Section 85ZE it is an offence for “a person to knowingly or recklessly use a telecommunications service supplied by a carrier in such a way as would be regarded by reasonable persons being , in all the circumstances, offensive”.

In addition, following the widespread introduction of the internet, state laws were changed to address this issue. For example the Crimes Act in Victoria was amended in 1995 to include the offence of ‘Stalking’. This includes telephoning and sending electronic messages with the intention of causing physical or mental harm.

Also, the sending of images is covered by various State and Territory classification laws, which prevent the publication of material that is objectionable, unclassified or unsuitable for minors.

“It is generally accepted that there are some places where people should not be using cameras, and this should also apply to mobile phones that can record images,” Mr Chalker said.

“We believe it would be considered socially unacceptable for mobile phones which can take photos to be used in places where cameras are not accepted.

The industry does not condone in any way the inappropriate use of mobile phones such as sending objectionable images.

“The industry encourages customers to use their mobile phones in a responsible manner and to be considerate and aware of situations where using their mobile phone might cause problems to others,” Mr. Chalker said.

The issue is not the technology because various other digital imaging devices have been available for some time; the real issue is the inappropriate behaviour of some users. However, sending an image via a mobile phone, unlike a digital camera, cannot be done anonymously, he said.

“Potential offenders should be aware that inappropriate use of any imaging technology, including mobile phones with built-in cameras, is a crime in Australia,” he said. “You would be foolish to send inappropriate images via your mobile phone.”

Mobile phone subscribers, who must be over 18 or have the consent of their parent or guardian to sign up for the service, are required to obey all relevant laws, he said.

Media enquiries to Matt Stafford (03) 9696 5444 mob 0409 977 358