In Texas, ‘Upskirt’ Photos Are A-Okay, Court Says

If you life in Texas, your right to be a pervert and invade someone else’s personal space has been upheld by the court system.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last week struck down a law that basically prevented “upskirt” photos, or taking a photo of a person’s intimate areas without their knowledge or consent. Let’s go ahead and call it the Texas “upskirt” photo.

The Texas “upskirt” photos ruling by the state’s criminal court of appeals came after a man was arrested in 2011 at Sea World in San Antonio for allegedly taking photos of children aged three to 11 that he was swimming with, The Guardian reported.

The paper further reported that the man, Ronald Thompson, tried to delete the photos before police took his camera, according to a report by the local district attorney’s office.

When police examined the contents of the camera, The Guardian said they found 73 photos of children in swimsuits “with most of the photographs targeting the children’s breast and buttocks areas.”

Thompson’s attorneys argued that the law preventing “creepshots,” or Texas “upskirt” photos, was “the stuff of Orwellian thought-crime,” The Guardian reported, adding that the law did not distinguish between taking a photo of a woman in a skirt walking down the street and being a peeping Tom, according to his lawyers.

Gene Plicinski, chief operating officer at the Newseum Institute and a senior vice president of the First Amendment Center, told the Los Angeles Times that the question is one of expecting privacy.

“I think the central issue here is the expectation of privacy in a public place… With new technology, we have to redefine what is privacy in the public square. Fifty years ago upskirting wouldn’t have been an issue. Now we have cellphones and tiny cameras that make these photos easy. Laws will have to address this.”

The LA Times said the issue is one of intent, at least in the Texas case.

The law in question prohibited the taking of photos or video “with intent to around or gratify the sexual desire of the defendant,” which is hard to determine without being in the defendant’s mind, the paper said.

The Inquisitr reported earlier this year on a similar law passed in Massachusetts that said secret photographing or videotaping, or eavesdropping electronically on another person’s private parts, was a crime.

There is no word yet on what Texas plans to do with the law, though one could assume the state would attempt to clarify what criminal activity is without having to depend on figuring out what could be going on in a defendant’s mind.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]