Massachusetts

Upskirt Photos Legal in Massachusetts As Long As Subject Isn't Partially Nude, Court Rules

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AndarsKI/Flickr

Taking upskirt photos of women in public is not a crime in Massachusetts, according to the state's Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). In a ruling Wednesday, the SJC sided with defendant Michael Robertson, who was charged in 2010 for taking upskirt photos of two women on Boston's Green Line train. 

But the Massachusetts law used to charge Robertson was inapplicable, the court said, because the women he photographed were fully clothed. As the law is written, it applies only to people in private or people who are fully or partially nude in public. From the court's decision: 

"We conclude that (the law), as written … is concerned with proscribing Peeping Tom voyeurism of people who are completely or partially undressed and, in particular, such voyeurism enhanced by electronic devices. (The law) does not apply to photographing (or videotaping or electronically surveilling) persons who are fully clothed and, in particular, does not reach the type of upskirting that the defendant is charged with attempting to accomplish on the MBTA." 

Lawyers for Massachusetts had argued that women riding public transit have a reasonable expectation of privacy in not having a stranger secretly photograph up their skirts. "The proposition is eminently reasonable, but (the law) in its current form does not address it," the court concluded. 

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