Massachusetts will no longer be a refuge for upskirters

The Massachusetts legislature fixed that particular omission.

Massachusetts lawmakers Thursday passed a bill banning “upskirting” in response to a ruling by the state’s highest court that said a law aimed at criminalizing voyeurism did not apply to the snapping of secret photos up a woman’s skirt.

The bill now goes to Gov. Deval Patrick, who has publicly committed to signing it, his office said Thursday.

The bill would make photographing or recording video under a person’s clothing illegal, according to a statement from the office of Senate President Therese Murray.

Good. Thank you.

By the way…Is it illegal in Massachusetts (and all the other states) to, for instance, drill a hole in a neighbor’s wall to insert a tiny camera for the purpose of spying on them? Is that covered by the law aimed at criminalizing voyeurism?



  1. Cuttlefish says

    Actually, there was a case in the area a number of years ago where the technology outpaced the law, and a landlord with a digital camera in the ceiling of a bathroom could not be charged.

  2. Peter Hilton says

    The court said you can.

    The legislature, and apparently the governor as well, say you can’t.

    Will some mental minus of a photographer go to court to find out who is right?




  3. ajb47 says

    My wife, who happens to be an attorney but wishes to caution that she hasn’t read the opinion of the court beyond my quoting of the article about the nude or partially nude so you should understand that she is speaking from general principles, remarks that though it should be clear in this case, you don’t want the courts extrapolating what a law actually means. There is a reason lawyer-speak is very dense and boring, yet exactingly detailed, and it’s because the law covers what it says it covers and no more than that.

    So if the old law doesn’t explicitly say it covers what happens with a recording device placed under a person’s outer clothing, then the courts can’t apply it in that way. Especially since once a court rules a certain way, the precedent is set and becomes difficult to change. Yes, *in this case* it would make sense to add the upskirt extrapolation, but what happens when, say, the SCOTUS interprets a law to say that corporations are people?

    This was the very definition of… wait, I can’t phrase it that way in this case. This is a technicality, no doubt, but if we want to keep from punishing innocent people, then we need to be very clear about what is illegal under the statute.

    And to be clear, I find the ruling astonishing and the results of this ruling abhorrent. But I now understand that when it comes to being punished for breaking the law, it should be very clear what you have done to break the law. It’s not really a place where we should say, “Eh, close enough.”

  4. ajb47 says

    As for hole in neighbor’s wall, wasn’t Angie Harmon in the Lifetime, based on a true story, movie about just that thing? Which was not considered illegal at the time? Ah, a search shows it as “Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story”. Wilson became an activist to make sure laws covered this action when she found out it wasn’t illegal to put cameras in your neighbor’s house at the time.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Very quick work on the part of the Mass legislature.

    Gotta wonder what would have happened if this verdict had come down during a period when state lawmakers had just begun a prolonged break.

  6. ajb47 says

    Ophelia Benson @6 –

    I’m with you. It can be a bit maddening to try to fume about a legal situation and have the trained attorney you are married to calmly explain that the law cannot follow common sense because there is a great variance in “common” sense. (I have been schooled — very directly — about the McDonald’s Hot Coffee case, for starters.) But at the same time, I have become much more liberal since I met her, so, there’s that. (I was far more centrist, possibly just slightly right — it was a just world thing.)

    But what’s even worse is that some other jerkweed does what you posted above from Reddit via Manboobz, not only misunderstanding what happened but throwing Teh Womenz be Sucking on top of it.

  7. says

    The hole in the wall would be illegal under the old, as you have the expectation of privacy in your own home. In this case, the woman was in public, so the expectation of privacy part of the law didn’t apply. Personally, I found that part of the ruling more unsettling than the technicality of what counts as “partially undressed” or not. You’d think that even in public, at least *some* expectations of privacy still apply.

    IANAL and other disclaimers may apply as well.

  8. says

    @Kevin Alexander:
    It’s probably legal, because (1) the TSA aren’t recording under your clothing, they’re recording through your clothing, and (2) you don’t have the expectation of privacy at a US border crossing or airport. </snark>

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Deen @ # 11: … you don’t have the expectation of privacy at a in the US border anywhere …

    FTFY, free!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *