New state law bans ‘upskirt’ photos after court ruling

Credit: Google Images
Taking photos of unsuspecting people under their clothing has been banned in Massachusetts. Credit: Google Images

Massachusetts on Friday banned people from secretly taking pictures or video under another person’s clothing, two days after the state’s top court pointed out that so-called “upskirting” was allowed under existing laws.

The state legislature had hastily drafted the bill making the practice a crime punishable by up to 2 1/2 years in jail, and Gov. Deval Patrick signed it into law Friday morning, his office said in a press release.

“We are sending a message that to take a photo or video of a woman under her clothing is morally reprehensible and, in Massachusetts, we will put you in jail for doing it,” Senate President Therese Murray said in a release.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had ruled on Wednesday that the state’s Peeping Tom law prohibited secretly filming a person who is nude or partially nude, but that it did not apply to people who are fully clothed.

Michael Robertson, 31, of Arlington was charged with using his cell phone to take photos and video up female riders’ skirts and dresses as they traveled on the Green Line in 2010.

The ruling was based on the argument that women did not have a legal expectation of privacy on the trolley and were not partially nude as defined under current law.

Chris Dearborn, a law professor at Suffolk University in Boston, said the court’s ruling served as a signal to the legislature to act fast, but also likely had Peeping Toms briefly “jumping for joy.”



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