Bravo to the City Council! These devices are wreaking havoc on people's privacy everywhere... Photography media needs to stay out of locker rooms. Period.
HARTFORD — Officials have taken steps to protect the privacy of patrons at the city’s popular Recreation Center on Rural Street by limiting the use of cell phones and similar devices capable of taking pictures.
Under a resolution passed recently by the Common Council, the devices are banned from locker rooms at the facility, which also houses an aquatic center and pool. A parent or guardian will still be allowed to take a picture of his or her child as long as it is not for “commercial purposes.” In addition, law enforcement officials would still be allowed to utilize camera or surveillance equipment provided they get permission first from the city.
A summary to the council written by City Attorney Karen Christianson spells out that cameras, video recorders, cell phones and any other “device that may be used to record or transfer images” are subject to the ban.
“All persons who utilize this locker room may reasonably expect a high level of privacy, which includes being safe from being observed or having their image captured by a recording or surveillance device without his or her knowledge and consent,” Christianson wrote.
The resolution also establishes that taking such a picture and either distributing it or broadcasting the image would be a Class A misdemeanor. Simply taking such a picture without distribution would be a Class B misdemeanor.
“This just makes good common sense and it puts us in compliance with state statutes,” said Mike Hermann, director of parks and recreation. “We've been aware of this situation for quite some time with the emergence of new cellular phone technology. About two years ago, we put a sign up at the entrance to the locker room stating that cell phones couldn't be used. It's important that people who use the rec center feel their privacy is being protected.”
He added: “Now with the new ordinance, it gives some teeth to punishing violations. People know they have to turn off their phones and can't use them. It's that simple.”
Local businessman Pat Paulson of Rueben's County Market said he uses the recreation center for workouts, but doesn't use the locker room so the privacy issue hasn't come up in the past. However, Paulson said he believes the restriction is a good one and he has friends who do use the locker room who will most likely appreciate the fact the city is adopting the measure.