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Vintage Mug Shots Raise Privacy Debate

PERSONAL PRIVACY

August 30, 2011

The New York Times reports on questions raised by the sale of mug shots from the 1950s and whether it is legal to distribute and profit from government property containing personal images. A sheriff's department disposed of several mug shots more than 10 years ago because it upgraded to an automated system. The photos were then purchased and digitally reproduced for sale online. Expert Peter Swire, CIPP, said, "In terms of public revelation of private fact, they can say they're not telling the names of anybody, so they're not harming any individual, and that under the First Amendment they're allowed to publish truthful old photos...The fact they're making money doesn't change the analysis."  (Registration may be required to access this story.) 
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