“Everyone in the news media is going to be sympathetic to the plight of the families. It's not my sense that traditional news organizations would exploit the photos, but it’s a brave new world online, and there are those who would post things that would horrify most viewers,” says Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, which is based at the Newseum in Washington.
Since the First Amendment prevents the government from stopping publication of most material, he says, “you’ll increasingly see efforts by legislators to limit access” in the first place, since each state government can control the release of public records.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) applauded passage of the bill, saying in a statement Wednesday that “those who lose loved ones to violence have a right to protect themselves against further anguish.” He also acknowledged that the issue requires “all of us to balance deeply held beliefs and important public policy values.”
The new law will create an exemption to the state’s Freedom of Information Act, preventing the release of photos, videos, or other visual images depicting homicide victims (not just those at Sandy Hook) if the records “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the victim or the victim’s surviving family members.”