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Senate passes bill to criminalize upskirting
Williams Michael
Michael Williams.

Secretly taking photos or videos of a person’s private parts under their clothes, an act that has coined the term “upskirting,” may soon be illegal in the state of Georgia, thanks to legislation recently passed in the state’s House and Senate.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, the Senate passed Senate Bill 45 by a 49-to-0 vote, which “criminalizes the act of ‘upskirting’ and makes it clear that any person who commits an act of this nature is breaking the law and will face conviction,” according to District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams, who represents the vast majority of Forsyth.

“I am happy we were able to pass an important piece of legislation that closes a loophole and guarantees all Georgians’ right to privacy,” he said in a news release.

Two days later, the House of Representatives voted 156-1 to approve House Bill 9, which would make the act a felony, with a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

The bills look nearly identical, though SB 45 includes fines of up to $100,000.

SB 45 and HB 9 come in response to a ruling by the state Court of Appeals last year that determined there was no specific law banning upskirting in Georgia.

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

SB 45 was sponsored by state Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, with HB 9 sponsored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire.

Once any differences between the bills are resolved, a combined bill will return to the General Assembly for a final vote.

If approved, Gov. Nathan Deal will have 40 days to decide whether to sign the bill into law, veto it or do nothing.

If he does nothing, the bill automatically goes into effect at the end of the 40-day period.