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Invasion of Privacy in New Jersey

On September 7, 2006, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) levied a fine in connection with alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) against Xanga.com, a social networking website. The company agreed to a consent order providing for a $1 million fine for violations of COPPA. COPPA applies to websites directed at children under age 13. Websites covered by COPPA must link to a privacy policy on the homepage and any pages children may provide personal information. The policy must explain the types of information collected, how information is collected, how the website will use the information, and whether it will share information with third parties. The FTC charged Xanga.com had actual knowledge that it collected personal information of children under age 13 without the consent of the children’s parents or guardians. Xanga.com acknowledged it failed to notify parents and obtain consent before collecting, using, and disclosing personal information. Xanga.com’s user agreement said children under age 13 could not join, but the website allowed such users when they registered using a birth date showing they were under age 13. Boilerplate provisions contained in a website’s terms of service may be inadequate. COPPA requires websites to obtain “verifiable parental consent” to the collection, use, and sharing of a child’s information.

Privacy is not only a hot topic under federal law, but a concern in New Jersey. According to New Jersey Statutes – Title 2C The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice – 2C:14-9, a person may commit a crime for invasion of privacy when there is:

  1. unprivileged exposure of intimate parts; or
  2. photographs, films, videotapes, records, or other reproduction on the image of another person’s exposed intimate parts or when engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact, without a person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.

Under New Jersey Statutes 2C:43-3, a fine not to exceed $30,000 may be imposed for invasion of privacy. When faced with invasion of privacy charges, engage an experienced New Jersey attorney knows to argue affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses to invasion of privacy include giving prior notice to someone of intent to observe intimate parts or disclosing photographs or other reproductions of intimate parts for a lawful purpose.

For example, it is not a violation of the New Jersey Statutes to observe another person in the access way or entrance to a fitting room or dressing room, if the person conspicuously posts at the entrance prior notice of an intent to make the observations, photographs, films, videotapes, recordings or other reproductions. Another example, it is lawful to disclose intimate parts in a photograph, film, videotape or recording of another person using a fitting room or dressing room to law enforcement officers in connection with a criminal prosecution; pursuant to subpoena or court order for use in a legal proceeding; or to a co-worker, manager or supervisor acting within the scope of his employment.

When faced with criminal invasion of privacy, engage an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to decrease prison time and penalties. Contact the Law Office of Jason A. Volet at (732) 503-8968 or fill out the form on the right.

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