Peeping Toms Get New Tool

Remember that phrase "Smile, you're on Candid Camera?"

Well today, it's "Smile, you're on candid camera-phone." But after you see what people are doing with these camera-phones, smiling may be the last thing you want to do. CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith reports.

What happens when cell phones, the mouths and ears of the 21st century, suddenly get eyes? In a snap, everyone's an amateur photographer.

What the pictures lack in quality, they make up for in convenience. You can take a photo and within seconds, send it anywhere.

There are even entire Web sites - created by "mobile maniacs" – called, mo-blogs, where people document every step of their own lives and those of others.

Privacy expert Daniel Solove says, "Everyone now has their own camera that they can whip out and snap a shot and that makes everyone to some extent a little paparazzi."

From personal to practical, this mobile technology also has some noble uses. In New Jersey, a teenager scared off a kidnapper by taking his picture. And in Pennsylvania, St John's basketball players accused of rape in a hotel proved their innocence with a camera-phone. In those instances, it helped.

But what about those times you don't want your picture taken - like when you're at the gym? That's the problem with these little camera phones. The same things that make them fun and useful also make them an ideal tool for peeping toms. They're small; they're easy to hide; and when you take a picture, there's no sound no flash.

So many gyms have a new rule: No phone use at all.

Tonya Jacobs of L.A. Sports Club says, "With a camera phone you really don't know where they're going to take their cell phone. More specifically, our biggest concern is with locker rooms, the sauna, steam room - people are changing."

Schools are also cracking down after a California student was caught taking a photo of a test and sending it to a friend. And some companies, like Texas Instruments, have banned cam-phones to prevent the pilfering of trade secrets. But there are still plenty of spots where you can get snapped without even knowing it.

The supermarket is one place where most of us wouldn't expect our privacy to be violated. But last year in Washington State, a man got arrested when he tried to use a camera phone to take a photo up a woman's skirt. The practice of taking dirty pictures of unsuspecting women has become such a phenomenon there's even a couple of names for it: Downblowsing and upskirting.

And it's surprisingly simple.

One thing Congress is trying to do: Pass a law to protect people's privacy.

Rep. Mike Oxley, a former FBI agent, who wrote the cam-phones legislation says, "If they use the phone and they take a picture of a person undressing, for example, put it on the Internet they could be fined and served up to a year in jail under the statute."

Though the measure would affect only people on federal property - like the Mall in Washington - it's aimed to serve as a role model for states to follow.

Privacy expert Daniel Solove says, "There has to be a penalty for taking people's pictures when they're expecting privacy, even when they're out in public."

And while most people use the cameras for this kind of snapshot, those who don't, might end up posing for a mugshot instead.

Earlier this week, an Australian newspaper reported that Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has banned cam-phones from military installations in Iraq, over concerns that some of the prison abuse photos were taken with camera phones.
  • Tatiana Morales

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