That Was Quick! 'Upskirt' Photos Banned in Massachusetts

Story updated March 7 at 12:30 p.m.

By VITAMIN W Staff

What once was a horrible day for a woman to wear a skirt in Massachusetts, is now an eye-opening one for voyuers taking "upskirt" photos.

"Two days after the state's highest court sparked outrage when it ruled that state law allows people to take such photos, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill [Thursday] to ban the practice, known as 'upskirting,' " the Boston Globe writes.

Lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation meant to close loopholes in the state's Peeping Tom law. The move came one day after the state's highest court ruled Michael Robertson did not violate state law in 2010 when he used his cell phone to take photos and videos up women’s skirts/dresses on Boston's subway.

The legislation now says anyone who "photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils" another person's sexual or intimate parts without that person's consent would face a misdemeanor charge and a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in jail and a $5,000 fine, the AP writes.

Original Post: 

In the court's ruling earlier this week, the women would have had to have been in a situation such as a bathroom, shower, or changing room for the photos to be illegal.

Still, if you see this creep--Michael Robertson--get far away.

Holly Kearl, founder of Stop Street Harassment (an organization dedicated to ending street harassment worldwide), told VITAMIN W, "The Massachusetts court ruling is disappointing for everyone who believes that people should have the right to be in public places without someone taking an inappropriate and violating photo under their clothing. I hope the Massachusetts lawmakers - and lawmakers in every other state that has an outdated law on this issue - will update their law as soon as possible."

Kearl suggested the laws in Hawai'i and Washington state as models for Massachusetts to look at.

She informed VITAMIN W:

Hawai’i’s law, Violation of Privacy in the Second Degree, says it is illegal if a person intentionally "covertly records or broadcasts an image of another person's intimate area underneath clothing, by use of any device, and that image is taken while that person is in a public place and without that person's consent."

Washington’s Voyeurism law specifically states it is illegal for someone to take photos or videotape of the intimate areas of a non-consenting person’s body under circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, including public places.

For other state-by-state laws, in December, honoring International Human Rights Day, Stop Street Harassment released their toolkit, "Know Your Rights: Street Harassment and the Law." Check out laws for your state there, and if you live in Massachusetts, you are in luck.

Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr/Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0

toolkit, “Know Your Rights: Street Harassment and the Law.” - See more at: http://vitaminw.co/change/street-harassment-laws-know-your-rights#sthash...
toolkit, “Know Your Rights: Street Harassment and the Law.” - See more at: http://vitaminw.co/change/street-harassment-laws-know-your-rights#sthash...
toolkit, “Know Your Rights: Street Harassment and the Law.” - See more at: http://vitaminw.co/change/street-harassment-laws-know-your-rights#sthash...