Anti-Video Voyeurism Federal Bill Moves Forward

Rhett Pardon
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal panel on Wednesday voted to approve the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, which outlaws "upskirt" photos and other forms of voyeurism made possible by cell-phone cameras and other miniaturized technology.

The House Judiciary Committee’s approval of the piece of legislation would prohibit taking covert pictures in locker rooms, bedrooms and other places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The bill passed the Senate in September.

Violators would face fines and up to a year in prison under the law.

Lawmakers say cell-phone cameras and tiny surveillance devices allow peeping toms to secretly take pictures in compromising situations.

The language of the bill is directed at “improper images,” such as photos of the “female breast below the top of the areola” and “naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic areas and buttocks.” It also focuses on “reasonable expectations of privacy” in public and private areas.

Several states already have laws on the books for video voyeurs, and many who are found convicted are required to register as sex offenders.

Last year, video voyeurism became a felony in New York with the signing of Stephanie’s Law. Stephanie Fuller lobbied for the law after a camera was installed in her bedroom.

The New York law allows for punishment up to seven years in jail for videotaping a person in a private setting.