Massachusetts lawmakers make upskirting illegal after outdated law lets Peeping Tom walk

Massachusetts lawmakers acted swiftly this afternoon to outlaw using phones to take pictures of women under their skirts, better known as “upskirting.” The law passed and is expected to be signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

The decision came after a judge dismissed charges against Michael Robertson, who was arrested in 2011 for using his phone to take pictures and video up women’s skirts on the trolley. Justice Margot Botsford said that the law stated that it is illegal to take photos of nude or partially nude people without their knowledge and the women Robertson was taking photos of were not partially nude, even if he was violating their privacy.

Bostford’s ruling made headlines on the web and lawmakers in Boston immediately vowed to fix the law to reflect today’s technology.

“The House took action today to bring Massachusetts laws up-to-date with technology and the predatory practice of ‘upskirting,’” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement after the law was passed, notes WBZ. “We must make sure that the law protects women from these kind of frightening and degrading acts.”

WCVB reports that the state Senate also passed the bill. It makes taking a photo or video of a person under their clothes a misdemeanor if that person should expect that their intimate parts aren’t visible to the public. If convicted, a person would spend two and a half years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

“It brought me back in time to say, 'This is OK. You can do this to women.' Or to say, 'You can do this to children,'” Senate President Therese Murray commented.

Murray added that laws need to be kept up to date, since what happened was "morally reprehensible.”

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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