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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
US moves to ban furtive photos
Woman using a camera phone
Camera phones are popular across the world
The US has moved a step closer towards imposing controls on camera phones.

A bill banning so-called up-skirt photos and other forms of voyeurism has made further progress through the political machinery in Washington.

It would make the taking of covert photos in places like locker rooms or bedrooms a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and fines.

The popularity of small mobiles with cameras has made it much easier to take illicit photos without permission.

Privacy concerns

National governments, local authorities and some businesses are starting to restrict the places these devices can be used due to privacy fears.

In the US, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has unanimously voted to support the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act.

The bill was passed by the Senate last September and now goes to the House of Representatives, which is expected to follow suit.

"This bill targets the pernicious practice of invading a person's privacy through the surreptitious use of hidden or concealed surveillance equipment," said Republican Representative Howard Coble.

There have been cases around the world of people using camera phones to take illicit photographs and more public places are moving to ban their use.

In Japan, some fitness centres ban the use of camera phones and the Italian information commissioner has issued guidelines on where and how such phones can be used.

In the UK, several councils have taken action to stop such phones being used in schools, leisure centres and swimming pools.

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