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South Korea to ban selfie sticks with fines or prison for offenders

Selfie sticks are a bit like Marmite – you either love them or hate them, and it seems as if the South Korean government falls firmly in the latter category as they plan on banning the irritating devices and hitting those who sell them with a hefty fine.

It may appear silly at first, but the decision to ban these devices is actually more to do with regulation than good taste. As the photo-taking accessories use Bluetooth technology, they’re classified as telecommunications equipment in South Korea, and subject to the strict regulations that govern them.

All telecoms equipment in the country has to be certified through official channels and, as many of the selfie sticks are sold through unregulated retailers, the government has decided enough is enough. Fines of up to $27,000 are being handed out for selling unregistered sticks, and vendors could even face up to three years in prison.

It might seem like a heavy-handed move by the South Korean government, but using unregulated technology in this way could prove dangerous to the user, so health and safety could well be at the core of their concern, as well as the more obvious quality and performance controls.

According to the science Ministry’s Central Radio Management Office, despite the harsh punishments, it’s not that big of a deal:

“It’s not going to affect anything in any meaningful way, but it is nonetheless a telecommunication device subject to regulation, and that means we are obligated to crack down on uncertified ones” they said.

Adding “The announcement last Friday was really just to let people know that they need to be careful about what they sell. We’ve had a lot of calls from vendors who think they might have been unknowingly selling uncertified products,”

Bluetooth-enabled selfie sticks apparently cost around $25 and many retailers have had to ditch untold amounts of unregulated stock, to avoid sanctions, but if it means avoiding a huge fine or time in the clink, it seems like the wisest thing to do.

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