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Mass. Upskirting Photos Ruled Legal; Lawmakers Vote to Ban

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The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on ruled it legal to take photos underneath a person’s clothing, known as “upskirting.” The high court said on Wednesday that the practice did not violate the law, because the “Peeping Tom” statute only applies to those who are nude or are partially nude.

In 2010, Michael Robertson was arrested and accused of using his cell phone to record videos and take photos up the dresses and skirts of women on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trolley. He was charged with two counts of photographing a person in a state of partial nudity. Citing the law, Robertson’s lawyers noted that the female subway riders were not “nude or partially nude” and were also not in a place where privacy was expected, like bathrooms and dressing rooms.

Legal expert Anne Bremner said the ruling exposes a legal loophole, commenting that the existing stature talks about nudity and not privacy. Similarly, Sunny Hostin, a legal analyst for CNN, remarked that the law has not caught up to technology and upskirting is an assault to a person’s right to privacy. She added that the spirit of the law should be about privacy.

The ruling has prompted one prosecutor to call for a revision of the state law. Daniel Conley, District Attorney for Suffolk Country, stated that every person has a right to privacy beneath the clothes he or she wears, and that if the law does not protect that right, then the Legislature must act fast and adjust the law.

A day after the legality of upskirting was upheld, lawmakers voted to ban photos of women and children’s “sexual or intimate parts” taken in secret. Senate President Therese Murray remarked that the practice is sexual harassment. She added that women and children should be free to go to public places “without feeling like they are not protected by the law.” The vote awaits Governor Deval Patrick’s signature.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo stated that they acted to bring the statutes of Massachusetts “up-to-date with technology.” Other states, such as Washington, Florida, and New York have passed laws criminalizing upskirting, stressing that women have an expectation of privacy under clothing.

Image via YouTube

Mass. Upskirting Photos Ruled Legal; Lawmakers Vote to Ban
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