Camera Phones in Banks: Part II

Summary:Last week, I picked up on Bruce Schneier's rip on banks that are looking to ban cell phone usage in the name of security (in hopes of preventing robberies).  Then, today comes news from The Register of how camera phones are being used in South Africa to stalk and mug bank customers:South African muggers are using camera phones to capture pictures of potential victims in banks before their accomplices stalk and rob them, according to reports....

Last week, I picked up on Bruce Schneier's rip on banks that are looking to ban cell phone usage in the name of security (in hopes of preventing robberies).  Then, today comes news from The Register of how camera phones are being used in South Africa to stalk and mug bank customers:

South African muggers are using camera phones to capture pictures of potential victims in banks before their accomplices stalk and rob them, according to reports....The ruse is helping street thieves in the Walmer district of Port Elizabeth to target well-heeled victims.......fears over the use of camera phones to help low-level fraudsters to get a clean getaway or to help blaggers to case premises in preparation for armed robberies - has prompted a number of US banks to prohibit the use of mobiles on their premises. First National Bank branches in Chicago has joined with banks in Citizens Bank of Northern California and Indianan-based Citizens Financial Bank in banning the technology. The phenomenon is not confined to the US. Banks in Mexico City began banning mobiles in May....

Pretty soon, they'll have to include BlackBerry-like devices in their bans too.  For example, I could easily make believe I'm using a Motorola Q (with its fully QWERTY keyboard) to type a message when in reality I could be taking a picture (even movies) with its built-in 1.3 pixel digital camera.  In fact, so small and thin is the Q that I could easily take pictures without anyone noticing.  Also, Research in Motion is obviously readying several camera-enabled BlackBerries. Interesting idea (banning mobile technology) but a bit impractical. If thieves want to use their mobiles inside of a bank, they'll find a way.

Topics: Banking

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David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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