The media association Freedom of the Press Foundation sent an open letter to camera manufacturers this week, asking companies to build encryption features into their still and video cameras.
The goal is to protect photojournalists and filmmakers while in the line of duty.
The open letter has more than 150 signatures from various filmmakers and photographers around the world.
Pros: Camera Encryption Protects Sensitive Photos And Videos
Most photojournalists document newsworthy events and are assigned to dangerous parts of the world. These people place their lives at risk whenever they send footage out, all for the sake of photojournalism.
But many of these people also face a number of threats from thieves, terrorists, border police, and other forms of heavy-handed law enforcement.
Courtney Radsch, director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, believes that the incidence of cameras and footage being seized has become commonplace.
"The unfortunate truth is that photojournalists are regularly targeted and threatened as they seek to document and bear witness," Radsch said, "but there is little they can do to protect their equipment and their photos."
According to the Foundation, having encryption features built into a camera will protect the journalist using it. Encryption prevents other people from accessing photos or watching video footage that are sensitive in nature.
The Foundation also emphasized that camera manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus are behind the times when it comes to encryption technology. Other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, already have passwords and fingerprint scanners to protect whatever is inside. The open letter is encouraging the camera manufacturers to come up with something similar for their own products.
Cons: Unlocking Encryption Could Take Time
Encryption, however, comes at a price. Capturing images on-the-fly is an important aspect of photojournalism, and typing a password or waiting for the equipment to recognize a fingerprint may cause delays.
The process of unlocking a camera's encryption, all while bullets are flying or bombs are falling, may cause the photographer precious moments that would be left undocumented. And when a photojournalist is attacked, the assailant can simply destroy the camera instead of having to go through the trouble of disabling the encryption code.
When asked for a statement, Nikon had this to say: "We are constantly listening to the needs of an evolving market and considering photographer feedback, and we will continue to evaluate product features to best suit the needs of our users."
According to the Foundation's executive director Trevor Timm, camera manufacturers need to be more responsible when it comes to protecting consumers, especially those who are using their equipment to risk their lives and cover dangerous events.