Ark. lawmaker calls for stricter video-voyeur law

ANDREW DeMILLO
Associated Press Writer
Published Monday, November 03, 2008

LITTLE ROCK Peeping toms who secretly snap pictures up a woman's skirt in public are already breaking the law in Arkansas, but a legislator says she wants even more penalties if they pass those images around or post them online.

Rep. Donna Hutchinson on Tuesday filed legislation that would add stricter penalties to a 2007 video-voyeur law that she sponsored last year. That measure expanded the definition of criminal voyeurism to include secretly taking pictures of or videotaping in public what is underneath someone's clothing.

Hutchinson, R-Bella Vista, proposed expanding the law to increase the penalties for violators who send or post online the voyeuristic videos or photographs.

"Teenagers know more about these cell phones than we do," Hutchinson said. "It's bad enough to have your picture taken, but then to find out it's on the Internet is even worse."

Currently, violation of the state's video-voyeur law is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines and up to 90 days in prison. The proposed changes would make it a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to a year in prison, if the images are distributed or posted online.

Before the law took effect last year, the state already prohibited looking, taping or photographing with the purpose of sexual gratification into a location in which an individual is present and has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Hutchinson, who last year jokingly referred to her measure as the "Paris Hilton law," said the restrictions were partly needed because some of the pictures being taken and distributed are by high school students.

"I guess the school bullies have gone from physical to cyberspace and the Internet to embarass and demean others," she said.