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A photographer secretly snapped strangers' text messages and turned them into art


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Mekong, I suggest you consult New York law which it comes under,


Any invasion of text etc is illegal, so the images he used he must have had the right to use, I know because 1 - I was a professional photographer for 7 years and 2 - I double checked with 2 lawyers I know in New York :)


<< Why / How is using pictures of SMS illegal if no private details are released? >>


Because tracking anything that is on your devise is illegal, very simple, and very clear in most places including USA under Federal and State laws. Doesn't matter what the content is, if you expect it to be private, and regardless what is said it is considered by law to be private, then it's against the law.


Most countries and states do allow street photography, however it varies, Texas is technical very strict, others you can photograph someone in their front yard, the rule usually is based upon what I could expect to be see is allowed.


However photographs of someone accidentally leaving open a window curtain is a no-no, no matter how many times I've loved those images


In addition Galleries never touch anything that can cause a legal issue, sure, negative publicity is fine, but legal publicity is not, too liable to damages, so the gallery itself would have made sure these texts had been approved for release.

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For fucks sake, it's all over the net, seriously I don't have time to answer a devils advocate or engage in this further, a 2 minute search brings these up

New York Penal Code 250

5. For his or her own, or another individual's amusement, entertainment, profit, sexual arousal or gratification, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing a person, the actor intentionally uses or installs or permits the utilization or installation of an imaging device to surreptitiously view, broadcast, or record such person in an identifiable manner:

(a) engaging in sexual conduct, as defined in subdivision ten of section 130.00 of this part;

(b) in the same image with the sexual or intimate part of any other person; and

(c) at a place and time when such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without such person's knowledge or consent.

Unlawful surveillance in the second degree is a class E felony.


New York Penal Law
Sec. 250.50
Unlawful Surveillance in the First Degree

§ 250.50 Unlawful surveillance in the first degree. A person is guilty of unlawful surveillance in the first degree when he or she commits the crime of unlawful surveillance in the second degree and has been previously convicted within the past ten years of unlawful surveillance in the first or second degree. Unlawful surveillance in the first degree is a class D felony.
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In separate 5-4 opinions, the justices overturned two Cowlitz County heroin convictions in cases that hinged on text messages a detective read on someone else's phone.

"People have an expectation of privacy in their text messages," said Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the cases. "People have a right to have those messages delivered without fear of government intrusion or interception, and if the government wants to intrude or intercept them, they have to get a warrant or a wiretap to do so."


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What was so difficult about that?

It is still not crystal clear though is it?

It is the “Profit” Part of 250.5 that he could be charged under.

You Heroin example is slightly misleading,  since it relates to government intrusion and interception without a warrant or wiretap which differs slightly from taking snapshots on the NYC subway.

So basically if he can prove his book did not make a profit (I know, negates the whole purpose of releasing one), and that on the NYC Subway is neither the time or place where privacy can be expected, he is not guilty.

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