Christie signs bill outlawing 'upskirt' photos

BY JOHN C. ENSSLIN RECORD

Governor Christie Thursday signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to take pictures or videos of people’s private areas under their clothes without their permission or knowledge.

Sponsors of the bill said the measure will help prevent such invasions of privacy.

Christie also issued conditional vetoes of two other bills, including one that would have renamed a section of Highway 21 in Newark after the late Pittsburgh Pirate Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

The other vetoed bill would have provided a $21 annual energy assistance to families qualified to receive benefits from the federal nutrition program formerly known as food stamps.

The so-called "upskirting" bill had unanimous support in both the Senate and the Assembly.

“As parents in this highly digital age, we’re always concerned about protecting our children and our privacy, and a big part of doing that is for state criminal laws to keep up with new and emerging technologies,” Christie stated.

“This new law targets perpetrators of a perverse and growing form of pornography that victimizes vulnerable women and children in a matter of seconds," he added.

Violators would face up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000 under the new law, which also would enable victims to pursue damages in a civil lawsuit.

"Upskirting is not a prank or a game.  It’s a crime – a defiling and invasive crime,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood.  “Today we’re putting perpetrators on notice that they will face consequences for their actions.”

Sponsors of the bill to rename Highway 21 after Clemente requested the governor's conditional veto after they realized that the original bill included a section of McCarter Highway, which they did not want to rename.

That section is named after the McCarter family, which has a long history of public service in Newark and New Jersey.

Thomas N. McCarter was an Assemblyman and a co-founder of one of the oldest law firms in the state. His son Thomas N. McCarter Jr. served as a state senator, a judge and an Attorney General. His brother Robert also served as Attorney General.

Clemente wore the number 21 on his uniform. A philanthropist off the baseball field, he died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while trying to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

To meet the condition in the veto, McCarter Highway would remain the same while the section of the highway through north Newark and Belleville will be named after Clemente.

In Christie's other conditional veto, he wrote that he would support an amendment to the bill that would limit it to people qualified for a heat and energy assistance program.

During the last session, he had issued an absolute veto of a similar measure, saying it was not legal to provide the assistance based upon the nutritional assistance program.

"Doing this in a lawful way is paramount," he wrote in his veto message. "Breaking federal law, even in the name of obtaining additional federal benefits, is not something anyone in this government should permit."

Email: ensslin@northjersey.com