Bill to expand privacy law proposed

Privacy laws could be expanded to apply in public places under a bill heard by the Judiciary Committee Feb 20.

LB1034, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill, would prohibit a person from knowingly photographing, filming, recording or broadcasting images of another person’s intimate areas without that person’s consent, regardless of whether the person is in a public or private place.

Currently, Nebraska statute prohibits photography only in places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as restrooms and locker rooms.

McGill said she brought the bill to address an action called “upskirting,” in which offenders target women in public places by secretly photographing and sharing images taken under their skirts without their permission.

“I feel that our laws need to catch up with technology when it comes to this kind of violation of privacy,” McGill said.

An initial violation of the law would be a Class I misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to one year of incarceration. A subsequent violation would be a Class IV felony, punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to five years of incarceration. Sharing images or video made in violation of the proposed law would be a Class III felony, punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment.

Additionally, if an offender is at least 19 years old and the victim is younger than 18, the offender would be required to register as a sex offender.

Jon Edwards of the Nebraska County Attorneys Association testified in support of the bill. Edwards referred to a recent decision by a Cass County judge in which an alleged incident of upskirting was found not in violation of current laws. LB1034 is needed to expand the unlawful intrusion language, he said, to include violations of privacy that occur in public places.

Amy Miller of American Civil Liberties Union Nebraska testified in opposition to LB1034. She said that the bill’s definition of “broadcasting” might unintentionally result in the wrong people being penalized for sharing images.

The committee took no immediate action on LB1034.

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