Robot love

Lemur genius

The upskirting law

Representative Mike Oxley is pushing a new law that would throw people in jail for up to a year if they’re caught using cameraphones for upskirting or voyeurism. As CNN reports:

The legislation also would make it illegal to sneak photos of a person’s “private parts” when “their private parts would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a public or private area.”

Now, on the surface, this makes perfect sense: Voyeurcamming is a huge invasion of privacy. That’s why it’s already against the law to spy on people with hidden cameras, actually. So why the new law? Apparently the existing laws are a hodgepodge that change from state to state: “Victims will go to the police and be told that ‘We’d love to arrest this person, but it’s not technically against the law,’” said Susan Howley, public policy director at the National Center for Victims of Crime.

What I wonder, though, is about the abuses of such a law. I wrote a couple of days ago about the rise of “sousveillance” — the use of cameraphones by individual citizens to record and publicize injustices by corporations, governments, and the powerful. If the new anti-peeping law is too broad, I could easily imagine it being used to shut down the use of cameraphones for activism and whistleblowing. I can just see a CEO, a security guard company, or a government agency getting pissed off when they see activists using cameraphones, and cracking down by claiming they were voyeuring the place.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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