The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that the practice of “up-skirt photography” does not violate the state’s voyeurism statute. The judges said that two men who took surreptitious photos and video of women and girls using tiny cameras had engaged in “disgusting” and “reprehensible” behaviour, but did not violate the law because the pictures were taken in public places.

According to media reports, Justice Bobbe Bridge wrote in an unanimous opinion that “the state’s voyeurism statute, as written, does not prohibit up-skirt photography in a public place.” This is because the law’s wording does not explicitly protect people from being photographed in public places.

The court also said that, while people have “reasonable expectations” of privacy in places such as bathrooms or dressing rooms, they don’t while working or visiting public places such as shopping malls.

A law that makes it illegal to take surreptitious photos or videotapes of “a person’s private parts” has already passed in California, after police realised that a man caught doing this in Disneyland could not be charged with doing something illegal.