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Wed, Nov 12, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Samsung and rival cellphone makers to add pic alarms

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Samsung Electronics Co and rival South Korean cellphone makers will have to install an audible warning on handsets equipped with digital cameras to prevent illicit photographs being taken and spread on the Internet.

South Korea, the world's fastest growing market for mobile-phone Internet access, will require handset manufacturers to install an alarm emitting a 65 decibel sound every time a picture or video is taken, to warn people who may not know they are being photographed, the Ministry of Information and Communication said in a press release.

The alarm, which would be as loud as a normal conversation, according to technology Web site Techweb.com, was chosen after the ministry considered several measures to ensure what it termed "healthy" use of the popular new technology. The combination of high-speed Internet access and cameras built into small cellphones means photographs can be taken and spread quickly and easily onto the Internet.

Internet-connected camera phones are common in South Korea and Japan.

NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan's biggest cellphone services company, sold more than 10 million camera-equipped cell phones by April 30, eleven months after introducing the service. Vodafone Plc's Japan unit also claims 10 million users of its cellphone-camera service.

Introduction of faster cellphone Internet access in other markets means global camera-phone shipments are expected to increase by 64 percent next year to 100 million units, market researcher IDC said in a report in September.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics is the world's third largest maker of cellphones by shipments behind Nokia Oyj and Motorola Inc. Its local competitor, LG Electronics Inc, climbed the ranks from tenth to sixth last year.

SK Telecom Co and other local cell-phone service providers have installed networks that allow their users to download data at up to 2.4 megabytes per second, making it possible to transmit a digital picture to another phone or upload it to the Internet within seconds.

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