Bad News, Creeps: "Upskirting" Is No Longer Legal in Massachusetts

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 7 2014 12:53 PM

Bad News, Creeps: "Upskirting" Is No Longer Legal in Massachusetts

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File photo by Franko Lee/AFP/Getty Images

Bad news, creeps: So-called "upskirting"—that is, taking pictures up a woman’s skirt when she doesn’t know it's happening—is now illegal in Massachusetts, via the Boston Globe:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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 today to ban the practice.... The legislation sailed through the House and Senate Thursday, a day after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state’s voyeurism law did not specifically prohibit people from secretly photographing under a woman’s clothing. It was a rare act of swift action in a Legislature often known for its glacial approach to making laws. ...
Under the bill signed Friday, it will now be a misdemeanor to take secret photos and videos of “the sexual or other intimate parts of a person under or around the person’s clothing.” The law would apply to times when a “reasonable person” would believe those parts of their body would not be publicly visible. Distributing those images could lead to felony charges and prison time.
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As my colleague Hanna Rosin detailed yesterday, the case in question involved a man named Michael Robertson who was arrested for allegedly taking photos under the skirts of unsuspecting women sitting across from him on a Boston trolley back in 2010. The state's high court, however, ruled this week that Robertson could not be charged under the existing "peeping Tom" law because one of the five criteria was that "the subject was another person who was nude or partially nude," and the women whose photos showed up on his cellphone were, like most riders on the Boston trolley, dressed in clothing at the time he took their pictures.

For more on the case, go check out Rosin's full piece, which also touches on upskirting's less anonymous cousin, “revenge porn.”

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