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Seattle's Voyeurism Law Gets Another Look


Both the city of Seattle and the state of Washington have laws criminalizing voyeurism. But with drones and selfie sticks, comes the ability for cameras to sneak into places where they shouldn’t be. That's one of the reasons Seattle is looking to update its current city ordinance.

Seattle lawmakers want to make it clear that you can’t take pictures or film someone’s intimate body parts in a public place without their permission. It’s already a gross misdemeanor to take a picture of someone, say if their skirt blows up in the wind.

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez says the proposed language makes it clear that even in public places, there are circumstances where a person should have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

“The intent of the law is to focus on intimate areas and what can be sort of embarrassing,” she said. “So for example, if you go into a public restroom, it’s still a public place and you have a reasonable expectation of being able to go into a stall and use the restroom and not be videotaped or otherwise recorded.”

Gonzalez says unlike the state law, it doesn’t matter whether the person behind the camera has a sexual motivation or not. Violation of the state law is a felony. The Seattle City Council is expected to vote on the updates to the ordinance early next week.