Massachusetts OKs bill outlawing 'upskirt' photos

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm •  Published: March 6, 2014

After additional procedural votes, the bill could reach Gov. Deval Patrick later Thursday or Friday. Patrick said he would sign the legislation.

DeLeo and Murray both expressed frustration with the court ruling, but said lawmakers are facing an ongoing challenge keeping up with rapidly changing technology.

"What we didn't talk about yet are drones," Murray said. "So now the drone issue will come up in the future also about privacy issues."

Wednesday's court decision overruled a lower court that had upheld charges against Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 by transit police who set up a sting after getting reports that he was using his cellphone to take photos and video up the skirts and dresses of female riders.

The state's existing Peeping Tom 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," the court said.

The SJC said that while such actions should be illegal, they are not, given the way state law is written.

In the past three years, MBTA police have investigated 13 "secretly photographing" cases. In some cases, the alleged offender was issued a court summons. Some remain open investigations. During those three years there was an average of 395 million passenger trips on the MBTA.