Lifetime Helps to Plug Peepholes


Cable network Lifetime Television Thursday was celebrating Senate passage of the Video Voyeurism Protection Act.

The bill now heads to the White House, where the President's signature will make it a federal crime 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 (Lifetime will re-air the story Dec. 14), 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.

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 finally passed Thursday.