Several states already have them, other states, including our own, are considering them. Anti-voyeur laws seem like a good idea at first. After all, who wants to be filmed in a public bathroom or changing room without their knowledge or consent? I mean, that's just weird. Stories come out every other day about someone finding a spy cam set up in a bathroom vent, someone discovering a man pointing a cell phone cam up their skirt, or someone catching a building manager sneaking a camera into an apartment building's ductwork. Ew, gross.
And some laws are written in such a manner as to be specific enough to protect us from just that. Most, however, are a hodgepodge of obfuscation. What's really behind them?
Personally, I am filmed without my knowledge or consent all the time, and I would like to stop it. It happens in public spaces, where I am almost always under the watchful gaze of ODOT cameras, private security cameras, and police surveilance cameras. If you spend any time downtown, smile. It's happening to you, too. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly mindful of the fact that many of the pro-democracy students who were persecuted, imprisoned, and in some cases murdered by the chinese government after Tiananmen square, were fingered by such innocuous security devices as traffic cameras.
Do you think the anti-voyeur laws will target such frightening invasions of our privacy as these? Think again. Stores, businesses, security agencies, and police will still be allowed to secretly film your every move. But what will be targeted?
As promised, anyone who pokes a cell phone camera under a dressing room wall may very well be criminalized. But, frighteningly, so might anyone who secretly videotapes police abuse. So the person who shocked the world by allowing us all to see the beating of Rodney King, and by implication, the nightmarish hell all people of color were (and are) subjected to by racist pigs, would be a criminal. People might be afraid to shoot or share such footage now, because the "law" could punish them. What about mike-wallace-esque ambush interviews, or Michael Moore's setups of corporate pigs? What about soldiers abusing prisoners who don't want the world to know? Or the military that supports them? (The first person to be prosecuted after Abu Ghraib was not the person who committed the abuse, but the person who held the camera that told the story.)
There are a lot of powerful people out there who don't want some stories told. Like the "PATRIOT" act, which pretended to be about protecting us from "terrorists" but was really about taking down effective anti-capitalist and environmental activists, this is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Watch it carefully, and do what you can to stop it.