Assembly Passes Legislation Making Video Voyeurism a Crime

Measure addresses threat posed by high-tech cameras

William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) announced Assembly passage of legislation he supported making it a crime to photograph or videotape people in their homes with a hidden camera or to distribute unlawfully obtained images (A.4479-A).

“It’s outrageous that someone can photograph or videotape you in your home without your consent — for their own twisted purposes — and violate no specific law. People have the right to feel safe without worrying about being violated with a hidden camera,” Magnarelli concluded.

Unlawful video surveillance is prohibited in places like bathrooms and dressing rooms, but current law doesn’t apply to private residences. Legitimate photographs and videotapes involving home security systems or authorized law enforcement surveillance are exempt from this legislation.

Twelve states have embraced similar laws. The Assembly’s legislation would make photographic or video voyeurism, sale of an image, or transfer by the photographer a felony punishable by up to four years imprisonment; and up to seven years imprisonment for a second offense. The bill would also make any other transfer of an image known to have been obtained unlawfully punishable by up to a one year sentence, and up to four years for a second conviction. The Assembly has previously passed this legislation, but the state Senate has rejected the measures.

“Voyeurism is becoming increasingly sophisticated,” said Magnarelli. “Today, someone can invade your privacy with tiny video cameras that can be hidden anywhere. It’s alarming to think that you could be secretly videotaped in your own home — and the taping is not itself a crime. Our laws should protect us from the dangers posed by the high-tech world we live in.”