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Privacy issues affect Mitt Romney and a royal princess

September 19, 2012 by NCC Staff


Issues involving two international figures, Mitt Romney and Kate Middleton, are raising awareness of about the legal rights of people filmed without their knowledge on two continents.

Romney, the Republican presidential candidate in the U.S., is dealing with the fallout of a hidden-camera video shot at a private fundraising event in May. It seems unlikely Romney will pursue any legal action after the incident.

Middleton, officially known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is taking legal action in Europe after a photographer snapped photos of her sunbathing while she was on a private property in France.

Middleton has won one legal battle in France after a court agreed she had a right to expect privacy at the villa. But the pictures have appeared in print in three other European nations, and the legal fight could drag out for years.

And that’s not including online, where images can be sent globally in a few seconds and are almost impossible to trace and erase.

Back in America, the Romney incident has led to speculation about the reasonable right to privacy for a presidential candidate.

Romney appeared at the private fundraiser in Boca Raton at a private residence. The unedited video, seen on the Mother Jones website, is shot from a camera hidden on a table to Romney’s left.

On the surface, Romney and the home owner would seem to have a case against the photographer who took the hidden video and possibly Mother Jones.

In theory, Florida is what’s known legally as a two-part consent state, so Romney and the residence’ owner would have had to agree, in advance, to a recording of the video and the audio.

A Florida TV station, WPTV-TV, interviewed West Palm Beach First Amendment lawyer Jim Green, who echoed comments in other reports from CNBC and Politico.

Green said Romney could have a case in the state of Florida if he pursued the issue.

"There are arguments where he would have had a reasonable expectation of privacy," Green said.

But in reality, Romney confirmed and repeated the private comments in public at a Monday night press conference, on TV, and in a newspaper op-ed.

So any potential legal action from Romney seems out of the question, and like the case of Kate Middleton, the video and audio have already been seen on the Internet and copied on various sites.

But the secret photographer and potentially Mother Jones could face legal action from the owner of the residence where the fundraiser video was shot.

Ironically, Romney is on record objecting to a key Supreme Court decision that implied privacy rights exist in 1965.

During a primary debate this past year, Romney told George Stephanopoulos that the landmark case of Griswold v. Connecticut was decided wrongly by the Supreme Court in 1965.

As Romney tries to put his comments in context, one Washington Post blogger put the issues of celebrity and privacy in a more-real 21st century way.

“Privacy. It is an outdated, foreign word. It smacks of a bygone age. It is, at best, a sign that no one is paying attention,” said Alexandra Petri.

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