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Germany: Upskirting Criminalized

(Oct. 23, 2020) On October 14, 2020, an amendment to the German Criminal Code that makes upskirting a crime was published in the German Federal Law Gazette. Upskirting refers to the act of taking photos or videos under women’s clothing without permission. The amendment will enter into force on January 1, 2021.

 Content of the Amendment

Crime of Upskirting

The new provision is included in the chapter on sex offenses. It criminalizes three different types of actions. It prohibits

  • purposefully or knowingly recording or transmitting an image of the genitalia or buttocks of another person, the female bust, or the underwear covering these body parts without permission insofar as these areas are protected from view;
  • using an image made in such a manner or making it available to a third person; and
  • knowingly making an image of one of those areas that was taken with permission available to a third person without permission.

The crime is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine. It will be prosecuted only upon request or if there is an overwhelming public interest.

An exception exists for images that are taken to further a legitimate interest, such as art or sciences, research or teaching, reporting on events of contemporary history or historical events, or similar purposes.

The German minister of justice, Christine Lambrecht, stated that “[u]pskirting is a sickening infringement of the privacy of women. It is unacceptable that secretly photographing under a woman’s skirt has only been an administrative offense until now and not a crime.”

 Additional Crime Added

In addition, unrelated to the crime of upskirting, the amendment adds taking or transmitting images of dead persons in a manner that is grossly offensive to the crime of the “Violation of intimate privacy by taking photographs or other images.” (Criminal Code § 201a.) This amendment to the Criminal Code was added to address the increasing problem of bystanders taking pictures or videos of accident victims and distributing them on social media or giving them to the media. Before the amendment, the Criminal Code only protected images of living people. (Explanatory Memorandum at 1.)