Lifetime-Backed Voyeur Bill Becomes Law - Broadcasting & Cable

Lifetime-Backed Voyeur Bill Becomes Law

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Video voyeurism -- filming people in private situations without their knowledge or permission -- is now a crime in all 50 states, thanks in part to women’s network Lifetime Television.

President Bush signed into law the Video Voyeurism Protection Act of 2004 Dec. 23rd. The network campaigned for the law after it aired a TV movie on the subject three years ago.

The President's signature makes it a federal crime, punishable by fines and up to a year in prison, to secretly videotape anyone "in situations where they have the expectation of privacy." Like, say, their own bedrooms.

It was the second legislative victory for Lifetime's Stop Violence Against Women campaign. Earlier this year, the Justice For All Act was passed, aimed at clearing up a backlog of DNA evidence that could identify rapists.

In the case of video voyeurism, state law has failed to keep up with technological changes--miniature video cameras, ease of Web uploading--that has created a cottage industry in bathroom/dressing room/you-name-it-room pictures, primarily of women--that can get worldwide exposure via the Internet.

Currently, only 30 states have laws against such taping, but the new federal law will now make it a crime in all 50.

Pushing for a law to help protect its primary constituency--women--became a Lifetime cause after the airing of its made-for, Video Voyeurism: The Susan Wilson Story, chronicling the trials, tribulations and victories of the Monroe, La., woman who fought back after she and her family were secretly taped "in private moments" by a trusted family friend.

Lifetime re-aired the film Dec. 14, after Senate passage. It will air the film yet again on Saturday, Jan. 8, along with a PSA updating viewers about the new law

Wilson fought for, and won, a state law against the practice, and encouraged Senator Mary Landrieu (D-L.A.) to sponsor a law in 2001 with provisions similar to the one that wsa passed into law last week.--John Eggerton contributed to this report.

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