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Associated Press 

Montana Senate OKs bills to put electronics in privacy laws


January 23, 2015

HELENA — The state Senate approved two bills Thursday that would update peeping Tom and indecent exposure laws to prohibit committing those crimes through electronic means.

Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, passed 47-0. It would make it illegal to secretly watch or record another person either in person or by means of a hidden electronic device.

The bill also addresses a section of the current law that resulted in the release of a man who was accused in 2012 of secretly videotaping women in a changing room at a Missoula pool. Charges fell through because the man was not an owner, manager, landlord or employee of the business where he was conducting the recording. Senate Bill 50 removes those and other stipulations in the definition of surreptitious viewing in public.

Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. Robyn Driscoll, D-Billings, passed 46-1. It would update Montana’s indecent exposure law to prohibit people from exposing genitals “by any means, including electronic communication.” The indecent exposure laws apply only to unwanted or alarming images.

Currently, a person convicted of indecent exposure three times could be sentenced to life in prison. Senate Bill 60 replaces that wording with a state prison sentence of “not less than five years.” A conviction could also bring a fine of up to $10,000.

Senate Bill 60 also adds a section creating a specific crime of indecent exposure to a minor, which is defined as showing genitals to a person younger than 16 if the offender is more than three years older than the victim.

Indecent exposure to a minor would carry harsher punishment than exposure to an adult — a fine of up to $50,000 and at least four years in prison.

Both bills move to the House.


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