In spectacularly weird news, the Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that ‘upskirting’ (that is filming or taking pictures up someone’s skirt for the uninitiated) does not constitute a criminal offence. Brandon Lee Gary, a supermarket employee caught on CCTV repeatedly taking videos up a customer’s skirt, was prosecuted on a count of unlawful eavesdropping and surveillance in 2013, but has since successfully appealed the verdict thanks to a legal loophole.
Rather than keeping his head down and thinking about what he’d done, he exploited the wording of Georgia’s Invasion of Privacy Act, which states that filming or photographing another person without consent is illegal when it takes place “in any private place and out of public view”. Bizarrely, the fact that the video was recorded in a public place became the crux of the issue. Gary was originally sentenced to five years on probation but was cleared of any legal wrongdoing after taking advantage of this weird rule.
Despite a lower court ruling that Gary’s behaviour was ‘patently offensive’ his invasion of privacy could not be deemed criminal under the current law. Judge Elizabeth Branch wrote that “there is a gap in Georgia’s criminal statutory scheme, in that our law does not reach all of the disturbing conduct that has been made possible by ever-advancing technology”.
State Senator Vincent Fort has prioritised amending the technicality at the next state legislative session in the spring but stated that “we’re going to have six months or so where these creeps can run around doing this stuff”. Until then, though, Georgian citizens’ genitals are fair game for snapping in the eyes of the law.