No need for tighter controls on mobile phone cameras

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) today said it agreed with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) call for people to think before they use mobile phone cameras, but AMTA does not agree with the call for tighter controls and protocols.

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

“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,” AMTA CEO Graham 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.”

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 prohibit 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 naturally extends 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 acceptable.

 AMTA issued an etiquette guide last year which included advice to respect others’ privacy when using in-phone cameras. The guide has been circulated widely through various Government agencies, consumer and industry bodies.

Media Contact:  Graham Chalker, AMTA, 02 6239 6555.