You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

letters | voyeurism law put to the test

It’s a matter of decency, not technology

Contrary to your March 8 editorial “Legislature jumps to action on ‘upskirting’ embarrassment,” the problem with Massachusetts’ “upskirting” statute was not that it lacked appropriate language to account for today’s technology. Whether the man whose conviction was overturned had used a camera phone or a Polaroid camera from 40 years ago, the court’s ruling would have been the same because the law covered only “nude or partially nude” people, and the Supreme Judicial Court held that a fully clothed woman on the T is neither of those things, “no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing.”

What the Legislature failed to anticipate in enacting the law was not advancements in technology but rather the devolution of human decency and the arrogance of sex offenders who think nothing of violating the rights of others.

Continue reading below

The “nude or partially nude” language also exists in other states’ statutes and has been upheld in circumstances not unlike the case that was overturned here, which means that the SJC didn’t necessarily get it right. Courts in other jurisdictions ruled that context matters and that a photograph taken under a woman’s skirt is necessarily a photo of “partial” nudity.

The real story here is that reasonable courts can differ and the SJC, unlike other states, construed the law narrowly to protect the rights of perverts no matter how sophisticated their photographic equipment.

Wendy Murphy

New England Law


Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of