Japanese netizens have made their displeasure known over a recent law proposal in the northern prefecture of Iwate to criminalize just “pointing” a cell phone towards someone if suspected that the would-be-photographer is trying to get a pic of the target’s underwear (in netspeak, an “upskirt” pic). Iwate prefectural police have said that they want to “expand” their capabilities in catching perverts who take these naughty photos secretly, but online critics say that this proposed legislation will turn any man with a cellular phone into a potential criminal, regardless of whether the motive is or is not to take an upskirt pic.
Under current Iwate prefecture law, taking photos of someone’s underwear without their knowledge is illegal, but only if law enforcement agents have proof that a picture was indeed taken. In this day and age, we understand the motive of the law proposal, as digital pictures are easily deleted, and police say that it is too easy for these perverts to erase evidence of their nefarious photography. Moreover, there are hundreds of smartphone apps that can silence the shutter sound (which is a big no-no in Japan), and make it easier for people to get away with these acts. Hence, the Iwate police want to be able to prosecute someone who intended to take a picture, even if there is no physical evidence.
Netizens were quick to criticize the proposed law, which will come up for vote in the Iwate prefectural assembly next March. They say that this would bring rise to incidents of otherwise innocent people unfairly arrested for just having a smartphone or perhaps staring too long in someone’s direction. Worried about their freedom to brandish a camera phone freely without judgement, netizens said that if the law was indeed passed, they would think twice about any travelling to the northern prefecture.