Earlier this week, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that “upskirting”—the “practice” of taking a picture under a person’s skirt without their consent—is legal in the state due to a legislative loophole.
According to judges who weighed in on the decision, upskirting is does not hold up to the rubric that constitutes an invasion of privacy, due to the fact that the act isn’t technically criminalized in the state.
The precedent for the decision involves a 2013 in Houston County: a grocery store clerk named Brandon Lee Gary was indicted for taking a video up a customer’s skirt in the Publix chain store where he was employed. Gary, who was caught on camera, was seen taping her as she walked up and down the aisle past him. (In a nausea-inducing twist, the victim interacted with Gary after he had taken footage of her; at the time, she had asked him where she could find a particular item in the store. He then continued to film her after she walked away.)
Three years later, the Court of Appeals thew out the case on the grounds that laws pertaining to this type of lews behavior, which were written at a time that the means and technology to make upskirting a thing (i.e., smartphones) didn’t exist.
This isn’t the first time a court has leaned this way: in March 2014, a Massachusetts court made a similar ruling, stating that upskirting was not applicable to the state’s “peeping Tom” laws currently in place.
Many Georgia residents, as well as lawmakers, are upset with the court’s ruling.
“You’ve given people license to continue this kind of behavior,” Tanya Washington, a law professor at Georgia State University, told a local CBS affiliate.
During their 6-3 opinion, the justices recommended that state legislators in the General Assembly amend the wording of the law as it stands.
“It is regrettable that no law currently exists which criminalizes Gary’s reprehensible conduct,” stated Judge Elizabeth Branch, who authored the opinion, at the time.
Lawmakers will be able to introduce measures to criminalize upskirting at the beginning of next year, when the next legislative session for the General Assembly is scheduled.
“[We’re] going to have six months or so where these creeps can run around doing this stuff,” Georgia Senator Vincent Ford said of the decision.