‘Upskirting’ ban in Georgia is a step closer to becoming law

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‘Upskirting’ ban in Georgia is a step closer to becoming law

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State Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, presents a bill in February which would ban “upskirting” and make it illegal to surreptitiously take a video of a person’s private parts in a public place in Georgia. The state Senate unanimously backed the measure then and separately voted last week to include the ban in another piece of legislation, sending it to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

It took until the final hours of the legislative session, but a measure has passed that would ban “upskirting” and make it illegal to surreptitiously take a video of a person’s private parts in a public place in Georgia.

Senate Bill 104 is now on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for his signature, after lawmakers negotiated over both the upskirting ban and numerous pieces of other legislation now included in the bill. Those measures include increased penalties for carjacking, the state’s annual drug update and the posting of human trafficking hotlines in government buildings.

The compromise came late enough that the final vote to pass SB 104 didn’t happen in the state Senate until just before the chamber adjourned for the year. But lawmakers said they were relieved to be a crucial step closer to finally curtailing a lewd practice that many did not know wasn’t already illegal.

The Sine Die 2017 edition of Georgia Legislative Week in Review with Aaron Gould Sheinin, Kristina Torres and the Phrase of the Week by James Salzer. Video by Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

The state Court of Appeals found last year that there was no specific law in Georgia that banned upskirting and that decades-old laws being used to prosecute such cases simply did not envision criminal acts committed with modern technology.

The appeals court’s decision overturned an invasion-of-privacy conviction against former grocery clerk Brandon Lee Gary. Gary had used his cell phone in 2013 to take videos from under a woman’s skirt as she shopped at a Publix grocery store in Houston County.

As passed, SB 104 would make upskirting a felony, with those convicted of the crime facing up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

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