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Great News, Creeps: Upskirt Photos Are Totally Legal in Massachusetts

Illustration for article titled Great News, Creeps: Upskirt Photos Are Totally Legal in Massachusetts

Hey ladies of Boston! Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made riding the Green Line even more perilous! Specifically, they ruled that upskirt photos of fully clothed women are legal, since the state's "Peeping Tom" law specifies that images must be voyeuristic of partially nude people.

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The ruling lets Michael Robertson, who allegedly took photos under women's dresses on the Green Line of the T, Boston's public transit system, in 2010.

Perhaps the Supreme Judicial Court took the notion of public transit too far, since they say that in such a place, women should have no expectation of privacy:

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. ...

[B]ecause the MBTA is a public transit system operating in a public place and uses cameras, the two alleged victims here were not in a place and circumstance where they reasonably would or could have had an expectation of privacy.

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Okay, I understand that courts come to unpopular rulings because of legal precedent or interpretation that lay people might not understand, but this is not an example of that. Who in their right mind interprets what's under a woman's skirt as not fitting the "partially nude" definition? And who has the audacity to tell women that they can't expect not to be violated by a pervert taking photos of their private parts, no matter if they happen to be covered up by underwear?

The Court says that the Massachusetts Legislature should rewrite the Peeping Tom law to cover such instances. But even with this proposed legislative solution (and who knows if the Legislature will take this up), this ruling is bullshit.

Image via Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

the-assignment
nopunin10did

At the core of the Commonwealth's argument to the contrary is the proposition that a woman, and in particular a woman riding on a public trolley, has a reasonable expectation of privacy in not having a stranger secretly take photographs up her skirt. The proposition is eminently reasonable, but § 105 (b ) in its current form does not address it.

I think you shouldn't have left out this part from the linked article. Sounds to me like the judge found it clearly a pervy thing to do, and something that probably should be addressed by the law, but that the law as written doesn't handle it.

Frustrating, yes, but I generally find it better for judges to at least /try/ to interpret according to the letter of the law, especially for scenarios in which one can reasonably expect a legislature to handle the heavy lifting.