If you’ve an iPhone or iPad in Japan you can’t turn off the camera app’s shutter sound. It’ll always be on, and it’ll always be full volume.
Why? It’s because of privacy concerns, as the Naruhodo Japan blog explains:
Japan society has a very strong sense of protecting privacy issues. It is interesting that all cellphone carriers and manufacturers have cooperated together to make the shutter sound standard. It is not required by the laws, it is all taken up voluntarily. We can see how important a privacy issue is in Japan society from this point.
Japanese photo addicts can still download third-party apps that turn off the shutter sound. Naruhodo Japan goes on to quote a report from the Japan Times that shows how widespread the voyeurism issue is:
On a news program on NHK in January this year, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said that there were 615 arrests for camera voyeurism in 2012 — a 24 percent rise from 2011, and up 60 percent from 2007. Of those arrested 64 percent had used cellphone cameras. Most incidents occurred during train commutes. – Japan Times
It’d be interesting to see how widespread this problem is in other countries. It surely is.