Nov 072009
 November 7, 2009  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

Lawyer and victim rights advocate Wendy Murphy writes:

Forty-three-year-old Deryck Reid will soon face trial on charges he secretly took pictures of an unsuspecting nude woman. Allegations include that Reid photographed one of his female roommates while she was in the shower at the apartment they shared in South Quincy, Mass.


It may be hard to see how the act of video-recording a person in the nude is either no big deal or a very serious offense based solely on whether the individual agreed to be video-taped. Indeed, the fact that it’s a secret, one could argue, makes it a “victimless crime” – a kind of tree-in-the-forest thing.

This is where the law could use some rocket fuel – to better articulate why it’s profoundly harmful to violate any person’s sexual privacy – even if they’re not aware of the violation.


Seen through the lens of this history, the secret videotaping of women naked or engaged in sex is a violation not only of their personal privacy, but also of the careful balance between state power and individual freedom.

In other words, it’s not just creepy – though it is certainly that.

It’s the kind of behavior that undermines self-determination, not because we have a right to feel completely comfortable entrusting our most intimate selves to strangers, but because we lose power as individuals if forced to accept the compelled disclosure of our most private moments as an unavoidable cost of living in a collective society.

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