Massachusetts’ highest court says upskirting photos are legal, lawmakers vow to fix law

By Daniel S Levine,

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled that it is actually legal for anyone with a phone to take photos of what’s under a person’s clothes, also known as “upskirting.” After the ruling, legislators vowed to fix the law.

Although many consider it a gross violation of a woman’s privacy, the court ruled that since the person isn’t nude or even partially nude, “upskirting” is legal.

“A female passenger on a MBTA trolley who is wearing a skirt, dress, or the like covering these parts of her body is not a person who is 'partially nude,' no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing,” Justice Margot Botsford wrote, reports CNN.

The justice’s ruling came in the case of Michael Robertson, 32. In 2010, he was arrested, accused of trying to take photos and video of women under their skirts on a trolley. Police even staged “a decoy operation” to catch Robertson in the act and he was arrested and charged with trying to take secret images of a person partially nude.

A lower court had ruled against Robertson’s request to have the charges dropped, but the higher court reversed that decision.

After the ruling on Wednesday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo vowed to correct the loophole that allowed Robertson to get away with being a “Peeping Tom.” He hopes to update the law to account for current technology, which allows anyone to discretely take photos anywhere.

“The ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court is contrary to the spirit of the current law,” DeLeo said in a statement, reports Boston.com. “The House will begin work on updating our statutes to conform with today’s technology immediately.”

The office of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said the ruling was a “blow to privacy.”

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