In an article published in the Macon Telegraph on Tuesday, it was described that as the next legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly inches closer, Speaker of the Georgia House David Ralston and other Georgia lawmakers are looking into language that would clearly criminalize the practice of taking secret, invasive pictures for the purpose of looking under someone’s clothes, a practice more colloquially referred to as “upskirting.”
The need for such legislative language has been expressed as a result of an incident that took place in a Houston County Publix three years ago where an employee was caught bending down and pointing his phone up a customer’s skirt in order to snap pictures. The Publix employee, Brandon Lee Gary, was arrested and charged with criminal invasion of privacy; however, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently reversed the conviction stating that what Gary did wasn’t “technically illegal” in reference to the meaning of the word “place” in the law delineating where Georgia’s citizens can expect to be free of surveillance. By the majority of the court’s opinion, the law does not guarantee privacy under the clothes of those who are out in public.
It is expected that this decision will go further to the Georgia Supreme Court for further review, but if the decision holds, some lawmakers under the Gold Dome are reviewing language to change the law in order to make sure that taking secret, under-the-clothes photos would be considered unequivocally illegal.
Speaker Ralston’s spokesman, Kaleb McMichen, described such conduct as “reprehensible and disturbing” and noted that if the Georgia Supreme Court upholds the Appeals Court’s decision, “Speaker Ralston fully expects that legislation will be introduced and considered to address this issue.”
Other lawmakers have spoken out in favor of addressing the issue, including Houston County’s own Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), and such action has also been discussed senate-side with Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry) as an ally.
That being said, if Georgia’s Supreme Court fails to aptly address the issue in the eyes of these state legislators and others, Georgians should expect to see legislative language appear as early as January to address the issue.