Massachusetts bill outlaws Peeping Tom photos

Women are seen on the street in Kyoto, Japan, on 25 October 2012 Massachusetts lawmakers acted because the state's existing Peeping Tom law did not apply to voyeuristic photos

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Massachusetts has approved a bill targeting those who take photographs of "the sexual or other intimate parts" of people in public.

It comes a day after a state court ruled a man who took photos up the skirts of female passengers on Boston's subway did not break the law.

The bill makes such offences punishable by up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a $5,000 (£3,000) fine.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the measure into law.

After the legislation's unanimous approval on Thursday, state Senate President Therese Murray said: "Women and children should be able to go to public places without feeling that they are not protected by the law."

The bill states that anyone who "photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils" a person's sexual or intimate parts without consent should face a misdemeanor charge.

The crime becomes a felony - punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine - if the accused secretly takes indecent photographs of anyone under the age of 18.

The bill was prompted by the case of Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 after police received complaints that he had used his mobile phone to take photos and videos up the skirts of female passengers on the Boston subway.

On Wednesday, the state's Supreme Judicial Court found the existing Peeping Tom law did not apply to "photographing (or videotaping or electronically surveilling) persons who are fully clothed and, in particular, does not reach the type of upskirting that the defendant is charged with".

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