Original Published on Sep 30, 2022 at 15:40

Makes motion phones be turned off during in-camera sessions, just in case

By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

If a cellphone is nearby and you’re having a casual conversation, are the spoken words being picked up by the device?

Sundridge Coun. Fraser Williamson thinks so.

As a result, he’s asked town council to adopt a policy that whenever elected officials go into an in-camera meeting, council members and anyone else in that meeting must turn off their cellphones.

For Williamson, it was two unrelated events that triggered his suggestion.

Williamson said one morning a month ago the council was discussing an  employee negotiation at an in camera meeting.

When it was over, Williamson went home and he and his wife Sandra began watching television that afternoon. He hit a channel that was broadcasting an old episode of the animated series King of the Hill.

“I just happened to mention to my wife that I used to watch this years ago on Sunday nights,” Williamson said.

A short time after making the comment to his wife, Williamson said an advertisement appeared on his cellphone for a King of the Hill T-shirt.

Williamson always carries his cellphone and the timing of the ad so soon after he made the comment to his wife got him thinking if their conversations were being picked up.

“And then that got me wondering if what we talked about during the confidential council meeting earlier that day was picked up,” Willaimson said.

Williamson said his cellphone was on vibrate during the in camera meeting.

Erring on the side of caution, Williamson proposed his resolution calling for cellphones to be turned off when council holds in camera meetings.

Williamson proposed his resolution at Wednesday’s council meeting where he recounted the story of getting a King of the Hill ad on his phone after talking to his wife about the animated series.

The next day Williamson spoke to The Nugget and said after mentioning the animated series by name at Wednesday’s council meeting, later that evening he received an unsolicited King of the Hill meme on his cellphone.

Williamson says he’s heard similar stories about ads appearing on cellphones a short time after people have talked about the very thing the advertisement promotes.

Williamson says if cellphones are picking up conversations, especially those that are confidential and sensitive in nature, it’s not a bad idea to take steps that keep that from happening.

Council expects to formally adopt the cellphone policy at its first October meeting.

Williamson says he wouldn’t be surprised if other town councils already have such a policy in place for the reasons he outlined or might adopt a similar policy just to help ensure the wrong “ears” are not listening in.

This item reprinted with permission from   North Bay Nugget   North Bay, Ontario

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