Bill to make ‘upskirting’ a crime advances in Georgia

Legislation to ban "upskirting" — surreptitiously videotaping of a person's private parts in a public place — has advanced in the state Senate, putting Georgia a step closer to finally curtailing the lewd practice.

The chamber's Judiciary Committee on Thursday signed off on Senate Bill 45, meaning it would be eligible for a vote as soon as next week on the floor if the chamber's Rules Committee gives the OK.

Sponsored by state Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, the bill would make upskirting a misdemeanor for the first offense. Anyone caught a second time or more would face felony charges and face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.

The House is considering a similar bill, as lawmakers have reacted to a state Court of Appeals decision last year that 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.

But the appeals court, similarly to other courts across the nation, found 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 court said it was up to the Legislature to pass a law to remedy the issue.