Posted : 2012-03-29 18:10
Updated : 2012-03-29 18:10

Silent smartphone cameras infringe on privacy

By Yoon Ja-young

Silent camera applications, which get rid of the shutter sound on smartphones, are becoming increasingly popular. These applications go against the government’s policy which requires mobile phone cameras to be accompanied by a shutter sound to prevent infringing on people’s privacy.

People looking for the applications at the App Store or Android Market can find hundreds available. The applications are popular as the shutter sound can be annoying in certain circumstances.

Hong Sung-in, the developer of “Silence Camera,” which got over 800,000 downloads, said the application can be useful in libraries or in public transportation where there are many people around. It is also recommended for those taking photos of pets that are sensitive to sounds. The application became the top free download in the Korean App Store on the first day of its launch, and remained at the top for the next 10 days.

The reviews were also mostly favorable. “It’s really good. I don’t have to worry about colleagues when I want to take a photo in the office,” wrote one user. “It’s really convenient when taking photos at a library,” “I could take a photo of my puppy sleeping in my arms,” and “I’ve downloaded it to take photo of my baby. It is useful,” were other comments

However, there are also concerned voices that these applications can become tools that infringe on people’s privacy.

When mobile phones started to be equipped with cameras, they were sometimes used maliciously with men taking photographs underneath the skirts of women walking up the stairs of subway stations. Photos taken by these peeping Toms are often found on some Internet sites.

The government therefore mandated in 2004 that handset manufacturers must add a shutter sound — 65 decibels or louder — to phone cameras. Not only local handset manufacturers but also international firms selling handsets here abided by the instruction.

However, there is no way to restrict silent camera applications or individuals who recompose the cameras to make them silent.

The applications have already been used by peeping Toms. A man in his 20s was caught last August for stealthily taking photos of over 10,000 females at department stores or subway stations, using a “silent smartphone.” Another man in his 30s was caught last June for peeping underneath the skirts of females around 500 times.

Some of the applications are going further, making the screen black so that people around don’t know that the user is taking a photograph.
관련 한글 기사

프라이버시 침해하는 스마트폰 무음카메라

스마트폰 카메라의 찰칵 소리를 없애주는 무음 카메라 애플리케이션이 인기를 끌고 있다. 하지만 이 앱들은 사생활 침해 방지를 위해 휴대전화 카메라에 클릭 소리를 의무화하는 정부 방침에 위배된다.

앱스토어나 앤드로이드마켓에서는 100종 이상의 무음카메라 앱을 찾을 수 있다. 이 앱들은 어떤 상황에서는 찰칵 소리가 성가실 수 있기 때문에 인기를 끌고 있다.

80만 이상의다운로드수를 기록한 조용한 카메라의 개발자인 홍성인씨는 이 앱이 도서관이나 사람들이 많은 대중교통수단에서 유용하다고 말한다. 소리에 민감한 애완동물 사진을 찍는 사람들에게도 추천된다. 이 앱은 한국 앱 스토어에서 출시 첫날 무료앱 부문 1위에 올랐고, 이후에도 열흘간 머물렀다.

후기도 대체적으로 호의적이다.

  • 1. 'Reply 1988' star rejects underwear ad offer
  • 2. Choi lures Japanese actor to 'Tiger'
  • 3. `Indonesia factor' bars KF-X tech transfer
  • 4. Playful Psy hilarious on V online show
  • 5. Police seeking to shut down porn site Soranet
  • 6. New policy on multiracial families to focus on openness
  • 7. Force with SM after EXO's 'Star Wars' push
  • 8. Foreign scribe takes swipe at Park's mask comment
  • 9. Naked artist smashes sculpture of herself
  • 10. Female F-16 pilot dreams big