Quick Reaction From Lawmakers After Mass. High Court Ruling On ‘Upskirt’ Photos

House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday afternoon said he would immediately begin work to update state law in response to a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that found that the state’s “Peeping Tom” law could not be applied to “upskirt” photos taken secretly of women who are clothed.

Bills to address the issue have been pending before the Judiciary Committee since they were filed in January 2013.

“The ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court is contrary to the spirit of the current law. The House will begin work on updating our statutes to conform with today’s technology immediately,” DeLeo said in a short statement issued by his office.

The high court on Wednesday dismissed the state’s case against Michael Robertson, who was accused of using his cell phone to take upskirt photographs of women on the MBTA’s Green Line. The court ruled that the women involved in the case were not nude or partially nude, as defined by law, and did not have an expectation of privacy from photographs on a public train.

The bills awaiting action in committee would seek to address the gap in law by adding “whether naked or covered by undergarments” to the legal definition of “nude or partially nude.”

The current law prohibiting the covert photographing or videotaping of a person without their knowledge who is nude or partially nude and in a “place or circumstance” where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy carries a penalty of up to 2 ½ years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Calling Massachusetts “better than this,” Senate President Therese Murray also said she would speak to members during a Democratic caucus on Thursday about updating the law.

“I am stunned and disappointed. We have fought too hard and too long for women’s rights to take the step backward that they did today. I am in disbelief that the courts would come to this kind of decision and outraged at what it means for women’s privacy and public safety in the Commonwealth,” Murray said in a statement.