Houston, TX-Say you’re on the subway, climbing the stairs or simply walking down the street and you’re wearing that cute skirt you picked up at Macy’s. All of the sudden you notice some guy trying to take a picture up your skirt. Or, you are at school or work and catch one of year peers trying to snap a shot of your nether regions without your permission. What can you do? Does the law protect you from this type of sexual harassment?

There is no easy answer to that question, and each state deals with the issue differently. A few decades ago upskirt photos wasn’t an a big issue, but cell phones and small point and shoot cameras make it much easier to capture and intimate shot of a complete stranger. Technology has been moving at breakneck speed while our laws struggle keep up.

Over the past several year the issue has reared its head and two separate high courts, one in Massachusetts and one in Texas, have been tasked with determining the legality of such photos in the public arena.

The most recent decision came for a Texas Criminal Court of Appeals regarding the case of a man accused of taking sexually-charged photos of young girls and women in a waterpark. He was later charged with 26 counts of “improper photography” which bans a person from taking sexually gratifying pictures of a person without their permission.

He and his criminal defense argued that his photographs were protected by the first amendment and he should not be charged with crime. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and dropped the criminal charges against him.

The court makes a good arguments about the First Amendment and the protections it offers, noting that courts cannot police a person’s thoughts and a photographer has the right to use their medium for personal expression.

Judge Sharon Keller wrote in the court’s opinion “A person’s purposeful creation of photographs and visual recordings is entitled to the same 1st Amendment protection as the photographs and visual recordings themselves,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The court established the photographer thoughts could not be regulated, but added that state legislators could change the law so women would have from this type of harassment.

While the court said “upskirt” or similar types of photos taken in public arena are not illegal according to the language of state statutes, they suggested lawmakers could take action and pass legislation to ban upskirt photos. Until they are perfectly legal in the state of Texas. Hopefully lawmakers in the state will do something to protect a woman’s right to keep what’s up their skirt private.

Sexual harassment on the street, in school and in the workplace is common problem women encounter. In a school or workplace setting, women  have recourse, they can report the harassment, retain a sexual harassment attorney and file a civil suit. But on the street women have few protections against verbal and physical sexual harassment.