by Jason Fischer
H.R. 414 was introduced into Congress this month with the title “The Camera Phone Predator Alert Act” (source). In an effort to combat unauthorized pictures, which might be taken in places like dressing rooms, locker rooms, and the like, the bill would require all mobile phones, made in the United States, to emit a “tone or other sound” that would be audible “within a reasonable radius of the phone” whenever a picture is taken. Under the legislation, a user would also not have the option of disabling the sound.
If the sound made by a phone, when a picture is taken, is designed to communicate a message (i.e., “I’m taking a picture now”), would it be a First Amendment issue to require the sound? Can the government compel every camera phone user to make this statement each time they take a picture?