A Texas man was arrested last month while snapping what police say were inappropriate photos of young women at a high school football game, says the San Antonio Express-News. Police said the images – captured through a 300 mm telephoto lens – were taken without permission and intended to stir sexual desire. The 35-year-old was booked on a charge of “improper photography,” one of many voyeurism laws that are relatively new nationally, as legislators try to keep up with technology so advanced that penny-size cameras now are sold. The 2001 Texas law says an offense is committed if a person is photographed or videotaped without consent and with the “intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”
One local photojournalist who shoots high school football every week asked: What is improper photography? “When I started 20 years ago doing this, the basic consensus was – if you can see it in a public place, it’s fair game. They’re fair game,” said Todd Stricker, a past president of the National Press Photographers Association. “That may not be the case anymore.” Only four U.S. states are without video voyeurism laws, said Ilse Knecht of the National Center for Victims of Crime. Congress passed a Federal Video Voyeurism Prevention Act last year. Photograph Stricker said, “It’s an extremely fine line” between what could and could not be considered improper. “It looks like you can take anything anyone considers actually arousing and consider that improper.” NPPA member and attorney Mickey H. Osterreicher called the Texas statute a feel-good law and agreed that it is open to interpretation and vaguely written.