WASHINGTON – Calling video voyeurism (search) the new frontier of stalking, the House on Tuesday approved legislation to make it a crime to secretly photograph or videotape people, often for lascivious purposes.
Under the legislation passed by voice vote, video voyeurism on federal lands would be punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (search), R-Wis., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the issue of surreptitious videotaping has become "a huge privacy concern" with the miniaturization of technology and the proliferation of cell phone cameras.
People have used these devices for purposes like secretly taking pictures beneath women's skirts in such places as school locker rooms, department store dressing rooms and private homes.
Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio (search), a former FBI agent who has promoted the legislation, said there are were many Web sites devoted to such pictures, where they "can be instantly posted on the Internet for millions to view."
Secretly photographing people in a compromising position is against the law in some states, but there is no federal law. Oxley said the legislation could serve as a model for states that have not enacted anti-voyeurism laws.
The bill would make it a crime to videotape or photograph the naked or underwear-covered private parts of a person without consent when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The Senate unanimously passed a similar bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine (search), R-Ohio, in June 2003. Sensenbrenner said he understood that the Senate would accept the minor changes made in the House bill.