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Mass. Lawmakers Vote To Outlaw Taking ‘Upskirt’ Photos

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers moved at a pace rarely seen in the legislature, acting quickly to pass through a bill criminalizing the taking of photographs up the skirts of women in public.

The State House and Senate both passed a bill updating the legislature to explicitly ban “upskirting” in public, sending the bill to Governor Patrick’s desk to be signed into law.

“The House took action today to bring Massachusetts laws up-to-date with technology and the predatory practice of ‘upskirting.’ We must make sure that the law protects women from these kind of frightening and degrading acts,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement following the vote.

The sense of urgency on Beacon Hill came a day after the state’s highest court ruled that a man who took cellphone photos up the skirts of women riding the Boston subway did not violate state law.

The Supreme Judicial Court said existing Peeping Tom laws protect people from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms when nude or partially nude, but the way the law is written, it does not protect clothed people in public areas.

“We’re told that the SJC’s decision was very narrow based on the existing law,” Murray said before taking up the bill on Thursday. “We’re going to fix that today.”

The bill includes punishments of imprisonment in the house of correction for up to two and a half years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

“I am proud of the Senate for taking action today to restore a women’s right to privacy,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “We are sending a message that to take a photo or video of a woman under her clothing is morally reprehensible and, in Massachusetts, we will put you in jail for doing it. We will need to revisit this law again and again as technology continues to evolve and ensure that we are providing the necessary protections.”

The legislation says anyone who tries to photograph another person’s sexual or intimate parts without that person’s consent would face a maximum penalty of more than two years in jail and a $5,000 fine. The penalty would jump to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine if the victim is under 18.

Distributing such photos of a child is punishable by a $10,000 fine or 10 years in prison.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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