The government has long wanted to outlaw the act of secretly taking insulting pictures of people, but previous attempts have been criticized on the grounds that doing so would compromise people’s freedom of expression.
“What we’re trying to prevent are insulting pictures, that is the taking of pictures or filming in secret that infringe on a specific individual,” justice minister Beatrice Ask told Sveriges Radio (SR) on Wednesday.
There have been several cases in which modern-day Peeping Toms have snapped pictures of women in various states of undress while they were in department store fitting rooms, public toilets, or showers.
The proliferation of mobile phones with cameras and internet connections means that it’s much easier to take and widely spread compromising pictures of people without their knowledge.
While the women often targeted in such instances have argued their right to privacy has been violated through the secretly snapped pics, the act isn’t a crime according to current laws.
According to Ask, the new bill, which was presented on Wednesday, is formulated in a way to ensure that the work of journalists wouldn’t be criminalized, for example.
Rather than outlawing “unauthorized” picture taking, the new law would criminalize the taking of “insulting” (‘kränkande’) pictures.
However, the assessment of what constitutes and “insulting” photograph would be made by a court.
The crime would be punishable by up to two years in prison, according to the new law, which Ask hopes will come into force on July 1st of this year.