On 9 October 2007, the (Victorian) Summary Offences Amendment (Upskirting) Bill received royal assent. The purpose of the legislation is to make it an offence “in certain circumstances to observe, or capture or distribute visual images of, the genital or anal region of a person’s body“. It makes no difference if the said region is “bare” or “covered by underwear”. The maximum penalties are 3 months imprisonment for “observing” or two years for “capturing or distributing”.  The need for the legislation was apparently a number of incidents that occurred in Victoria in 2006 and 2007 (although the opposition accused the government of dragging its feet over this issue as it had called for legislative change in 2002).

It’s certainly true that technology and the internet are new tools of the determined pervert, but there were some unforeseen effects of the legislation that resulted in some changes being made prior to enactment. There are now exemptions where the subject gives consent (e.g. a model authorises a photograph to be sent to a magazine) or for legitimate medical purposes. You will also be pleased to know that emailing by a person of a photograph of a naked newborn relative to a family member or friend may not be an offence.

While I find it amusing (and sad) that creation of this offence is necessary, I also read a very interesting article published in the QUT Law and Justice Journal which discusses whether non-consensual photography should be criminalised at all…food for thought.

Creative commons attribution for the photograph:
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/toptechwriter/ / CC BY-SA 2.0
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