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Last Updated: Friday, 4 April, 2003, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Furtive phone photography spurs ban
Pole dancer, Corbis
Strip clubs are banning camera phones
As camera phones become more popular, national, governments, local authorities and some businesses are starting to restrict the places they can be used.

Italy's data protection commissioner has issued stringent rules governing how the phones can be used and some other organisations, including strip clubs and gyms, have banned the phones from their premises.

Picture phones are already banned in Saudi Arabia and their use is frowned upon in other Middle Eastern nations.

Some people have already been prosecuted for misusing their mobile phone camera.

Use and abuse

In mid-March the Italian information commissioner, which oversees the ways that companies and individuals use data they collect about other people, issued regulations setting out what people can do with camera phones.

The rules only allow images of people to be snapped for personal use, demand that the images be kept safe and require users to tell people if the image they have taken of them will appear online.

The Italian data watchdog is worried that people will abuse the ease with which snaps can be taken with phones such as the Nokia 3650, SonyEricsson T68, Panasonic GD87 and Sharp GX-10.

Saudi men using the internet, AP
Some Middle Eastern nations are banning picture phones
To head off such abuse Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice has banned the phones.

In the United Arab Emirates and Japan some men have already been prosecuted for using their camera phone to surreptitiously take voyeuristic pictures of women.

Net sharing

The results of these furtive photographic expeditions are already finding their way on to the internet.

All camera phones allow images to be instantly sent to other phones, copied to a website or e-mailed to others.

Many keen users of the camera phones maintain their own online galleries and many of the images they snap are in questionable taste.

Low resolution images probably taken with a camera phone of women naturists enjoying a swim during a regular nudist evening at Cologne's Aqualand leisure park have already been posted online.

In fear that similar events will befall them, increasing numbers of organisations are banning camera phones.

Film stock, BBC
Hollywood studios are worried about picture phone piracy
Japan's Tipness fitness centres has banned the use of the phones in their changing rooms as has the David Lloyd gym in Edinburgh. Members are allowed to use phones in the centre's cafeteria.

Also in Edinburgh, one of the city's lap dancing clubs, called the Liquorice Club, is stopping people using their camera phones to protect the identity of the women working there and to spare the blushes of men caught on film attending the club.

Hollywood film studios are also starting to get more paranoid about phones that can take pictures or send messages.

At previews of popular films, reviewers are being asked to leave mobile phones and other gadgets behind.

By banning the gadgets the studios hope to stop still images of films leaking out before a movie goes on general release.

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