In a 6-3 majority decision, the Georgia Court of Appeals has deemed that “upskirting,” taking a picture of a woman’s private area underneath her skirt, is legal. Brandon Lee Gary was caught doing this to a woman in a Publix, and was originally found guilty of one count of invasion of privacy. However, this court decision overturns that conviction because, and we’re quoting here, “we find that when the term ‘private place,’ when viewed in context of the statute as a whole, does not refer to a specific area of a person’s body.” So, because “private place” refers to a physical location and not an area of a person’s body, Gary did not invade someone’s privacy.
when does someone have a reasonable expectation of privacy?
Believe it or not, this is not the first time a case of this nature has been reviewed. A grocery store such as the one the pervert Gary was in is deemed a public place, and therefore patrons don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. It’s what allows the grocery store to have security cameras. However, when someone puts their clothes on in the morning, they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” e.g., they don’t expect anyone to try and sneak photos of their genitals. No matter where they are.
The concept of filming or recording someone without their knowledge or consent has come before the Supreme Court in the past. A man named Katz was suspected of transmitting illegal gambling information over the phone, so authorities put a wiretap on a payphone outside his house. However, Katz v. United States(1967) determined that evidence obtained was inadmissible, on the grounds that the Fourth Amendment, “protects people, not places.” And that is the key language that will likely overturn the Georgia Court’s decision. If we can break the fourth wall for a moment, we hope this decision is indeed overturned.
The most troubling thing about this case is that there were six judges who so grossly misinterpreted expectation of privacy. Publix is a public grocery store, and by the most literal interpretation of the law, one does not have reasonable expectation of privacy there. However, illegal filming or recording of someone, especially when they are not a suspected criminal, has been against the law for quite some time. If the Fourth Amendment truly does protect people and not places, then that along with public outcry of the ruling will likely have it overturned, and Gary can spend his due time in prison.
Update: Since this article was written, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a law making upskirting illegal. Offenders can now face felony charges, including a prison sentence or fine of up to $10,000.