That selfie stick in your hand. A harmless memory-maker? Or a potentially chaos-inducing electromagnetic radiation emitter?
In South Korea, it seems, it could be both and anyone selling an unregistered version could face a $27,000 fine or up to three years in prison, the Science Ministry announced last week.
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Regulating the sale of these small, articulated monopods designed for cell phone-wielding photographers won’t be easy, given their numbers.
South Koreans have embraced the technology with a passion, turning scenic spots into undulating fields of waving selfie sticks and grinning, upturned faces.
The focus of the ministerial crackdown are those models that come with bluetooth technology, allowing the user to release the smartphone shutter remotely, rather than using a timer.
The problem, the ministry says, is that such units are designated as communications equipment given their use of radio waves to provide a wireless link between separate devices.
As such they have to be tested and certified to ensure they don’t pose a disruption to other devices using the same radio frequency.
Ministry officials admit the crackdown is basically motivated by a technicality, given that the weak, short-range signals emitted by bluetooth devices are hardly likely to bring down a plane or interfere with police frequencies.
“It’s not going to affect anything in any meaningful way, but it is nonetheless a telecommunication device subject to regulation, and that means we are obligated to crack down on uncertified ones,” an official at the ministry’s Central Radio Management Office told AFP.
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Despite the harsh penalty on offer, the “crackdown” appears to have been relatively low-key, with no mass police raids on unsuspecting selfie stick vendors.
“The announcement last Friday was really just to let people know that they need to be careful about what they sell,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
“We’ve had a lot of calls from vendors who think they might have been unknowingly selling uncertified products,” he added.