Selfie sticks – the gadget of the year for all enthusiastic narcissists – are not only annoying to others in crowds, they have now been deemed unsafe and banned by a number of major venues and events. As Rolling Stone reports, the extendable poles that allow smartphones to capture images from a distance are now “prohibited items” at music events Coachella in California, and Lollapalooza in Chicago, as well as at the Wembley Arena and London’s O2 Arena. According to Express News UK, Apple has banned the use of selfie sticks at its upcoming developer conference to take place in June, and many events and landmarks around the world have followed suit, including Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, Saudi Arabia’s annual Mecca event, and Rome’s Colosseum.
The grounds for prohibiting the gadgets across these venues and events are generally safety and damage-related, what with the metre-long extension poles posing a risk to surrounding patrons in crowded areas, and fragile ornaments on display at museums. However, South Korea has reportedly taken the ban to a national level, regulating sales across smartphone accessory retailers.
As ABC reported, the South Korean government from November 2014 has considered selfie sticks to be a “system of transmitting and receiving telegraphic messages by means of electricity” under their Wireless Telegraphy Act. The Act requires such systems to be certified for national use, and retailers caught selling uncertified selfie sticks could now face jail or an AUD$30, 000 equivalent maximum fine. Authorities claim that concerns centre around health effects and electronic interference from the Bluetooth technology that the devices function on.
Whatever the reason, we will be glad to see less aluminium rods sticking out at crowded arenas, and more use of the good old-fashion ‘extender’ arm to capture special moments at major events.