Spain's National Police have arrested a man accused of filming unauthorized videos up the skirts and dresses of 555 women and girls, and posting the footage on pornography websites. Picture: AFP/ Fethi Belaid

Madrid - Spain's National Police have arrested a man accused of filming unauthorized videos up the skirts and dresses of 555 women and girls, and posting the footage on pornography websites.

Police arrested the 53-year-old suspect, whom they did not name, in a Madrid suburb while he filmed the women with a cellphone hidden in a backpack that he had placed on the ground, authorities said Wednesday in a statement.

The man recorded the women compulsively, at one point filming 29 victims in five days, police said. He allegedly captured the footage at metro and commuter rail stops, as well as in supermarkets, and uploaded 283 videos that garnered millions of views.

Some of the videos were full-body shots, police said, while others captured the victims' faces. Police said they seized from the suspect's home electronic devices containing dozens of gigabytes of footage, which they plan to study to determine the extent of the scheme. The man had been making the videos since at least July 2018, police said.

Filming up someone's clothing without permission is called "upskirting," and Spanish police said the practice has become widespread in Europe. England and Wales criminalized upskirting this year after a woman targeted at a music festival campaigned to make it illegal, the BBC reported. Upskirting is also a crime in Scotland.

The suspect in Spain, a Colombian national, is being detained pretrial. He faces charges of violating privacy and corruption of minors, according to CNN.

The investigation began when police found a website dedicated to sexually explicit content with a profile that was uploading videos of hundreds of women's intimate areas.

"With the investigation's advancement, the agents concluded that the suspect generally captured his victims in busy places like the metro," police wrote in Spanish. "After, he followed them to the street, and sometimes introduced himself to them in supermarkets or stores to be able to obtain better shots of their intimate areas, which he recorded very close up."

Upskirting remains legal in most of Europe. A woman in Germany is campaigning for it to be made illegal there after she was upskirted at a school disco and again at a music festival, the Times reported. The woman, Hanna Seidel, said she reported the second incident to police.

"Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do," Seidel recalled a police officer saying, according to the Times. "It's your own fault for wearing skirts like that. People think you want it."

In the United States, upskirting is not a federal crime. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have banned it. Courts in other states, like Texas and Georgia, have ruled it is legal.

The Washington Post