September 30, 2002 12:03 PM PDT

Court rules voyeur cams legal

Related Stories

Firm defends 'snooper bowl' technology

March 9, 2001

Gadgets play role of Big Brother

March 8, 2001
In a ruling that could change fashions in Washington state, the supreme court there has ruled that "up-skirt cams" do not violate voyeurism laws.

The Washington Supreme Court judges said that two men who took surreptitious photos and video of women and girls using tiny cameras "engaged in disgusting and reprehensible behavior." However, the judges said they did not infringe on any reasonable expectations of privacy because the images were captured in public places.

"The voyeurism statute, as written, does not prohibit up-skirt photography in a public location," the judges wrote in an opinion issued earlier this month.

The use of cameras in public places has been an especially contentious issue in the digital age. Tiny cameras make it easy to take relatively high-quality pictures and video of people without their knowledge. Such images then can be easily posted on or distributed via the Web and seen by millions of people. X10, which sells miniscule cameras, markets its products with some of the most aggressive pop-ups on the Web, featuring scantily clad women with come-hither expressions.

The court said that while people could reasonably expect privacy in places such as a bedroom, bathroom or dressing room, they cannot while working at or visiting a public place such as a shopping mall.

"It is the physical location of the person that is ultimately at issue, not the part of the person's body," the judges wrote.

Face recognition technology allows companies, cops and other organizations to capture people's images, store them in a database, and compare them with criminals and other files. In one of the most famous cases of mass biometric surveillance, Florida law enforcement captured the images of thousands of people who attended Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Fla., and compared their faces to pictures of known criminals. Civil libertarians blasted the move, calling it an unprecedented violation of privacy that netted just a few ticket scalpers.

 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.