The Ayes Have It

In reaction to a recent spate of camera phone voyeurism in places like locker rooms and bleacher seats, a new bill has been put before the US Congress that would make it illegal to videotape, photograph, film, broadcast or record a person who is naked or in underwear in any location a “reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy.”

The bill, authored by Congressman (and former FBI agent) Michael Oxley of Ohio, specifically targets those who take pictures of others when they believe that “their private parts would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a private area.”

The law is really just an extension of existing voyeurism statutes, adding penalties of up to a year in jail, and using language that applies specifically to the added threat to privacy imposed by camera phones used surreptitiously in public changing areas.

Apparently, several cases of camera phone voyeurism – in which people disrobing in public areas have been photographed – have gone unprosecuted because no legal language existed to restrict such use. Now, it appears, Congress is working overtime to catch up with the legal implications of the wireless lifestyle.

In an ironic rebuff to communications technologies, the bill passed the Senate by unanimous, oral vote.