Outing the privacy of the editors who out others' privacy
Subject to a storm of protest over its decision to publish the names and addresses on a map of gun owners with permits the Gannett paper in the lower Hudson Valley, NY released a statement defending its action.
The massacre in Newtown remains top-of-mind for many of our readers," the statement said. "In the past week, conversation on our opinion pages and on our website, LoHud.com, has been keenly focused on gun control.
"Our readers are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods. We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law public-records requests."
The reporter "owns a Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum and has had a residence permit in New York City for that weapon since February 2011.
In the comments section of a later editorial in the paper, outraged readers, doing their own diligent research, returned the public outing favor, merrily posting the addresses and phone numbers of some of the paper's editors and management, the article's reporter plus Gannett's CEO.
Competing media entity, The New Rochelle Talk asked "Map: Where are the Journal News employees in your neighborhood?" which they then answered with a comprehensive list and map.
One commenter in the Lower Hudson Journal even disagreed that the "Freedom of Information law public-record requests" meant the paper could publish the addresses of gun owners, asserting the paper, "Broke the law in it's actions to post this map of gun owners":
Section 1. Subdivision 5 of section 400.00 of the penal law
A. 9388 2
1 (II) A REQUEST FOR THE ENTIRE LIST OF LICENSEES, OR FOR ALL LICENSEES IN A GEOGRAPHIC AREA, SHALL BE DENIED, EXCEPT TO ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT
AGENCY OR ANY ENTITY ACTING ON BEHALF OF OR PROVIDING SERVICES TO ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBDIVISION, THE TERM "LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY" SHALL MEAN THE DIVISION OF STATE POLICE, ANY NEW YORK STATE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, ANY POLICE DEPARTMENT OF ANY CITY, VILLAGE OR TOWN WITHIN NEW YORK STATE, THE POLICE FORCE OF ANY NEW YORK STATE AUTHORITY OR AGENCY, THE STATE POLICE FORCE OF ANY OTHER STATE, ANY FEDERAL LAW
If true, will New York's law enforcement agencies bring charges against the paper for this blatant violation? Will any of the law abiding gun owners sue the paper for blatantly violating their privacy?