Alabama Prison Officials Require Payment for Taking Photos of Public Contracts
Alabama prison officials are adamant that taxpayers should have to pay before taking cellphone pictures of public records.
Earlier this month, an AL.com reporter obtained access to health care contracts through proper channels, but was prevented from snapping photos on her phone. The problem, according to prison officials, wasn’t that she wanted a copy to take home, but rather that taking photos avoided the copy costs charged by the Alabama Department of Corrections (totaling, in this case, $29.16). The incident was publicized Sept. 12.
AL.com, though, claims that the ADOC stance is in conflict with an opinion issued in 2009 by former Alabama Attorney General Troy King. King said that fees should not be assessed when people use personal cameras to photograph public records, claiming that the camera captures only what the eye sees.
The incident highlights changing perceptions and lagging regulations regarding the widespread use of advanced mobile devices.
The Rise of the Mobile
As smartphone technology rapidly develops, Americans are using their mobiles more and more for everyday tasks. Already, about 28% of Americans access the Internet more frequently from a mobile device (such a smartphone or tablet) than from a desktop computer.
In fact, fast-food giant McDonald’s is testing an app in U.S. two cites (Salt Lake City and Austin) that allows customers to order and pay before picking up their meal. The strategy will sound familiar to devotees of GrubHub, an app that determines nearby restaurants offering takeout or delivery, then lets users place their order and pay with only a few taps of a finger.
And paying via smartphone may become even more widespread outside the fast food industry.
Along with the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch announcements Sept. 9, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled Apple Pay. The capability, which should become available in October, will allow users to pay without even opening an app. Customers will be able to simply hold their phone near a contactless reader, holding their finger on an ID scanner. If the payment is accepted, the phone vibrates to alert its owner that nothing else needs to be done.
Apple claims that the payment system will increase security, since people will not need to remove credit cards from their wallets to pay. Some consumers, however, remain wary in the light of recent data breaches.
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