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S.C. Official Sued Over Photos

February 23, 1999

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A company that buys driver’s license photos has sued the state’s attorney general, blaming him for a public outcry over possible privacy violations.

Attorney General Charlie Condon has abused the legal process to generate negative publicity about Image Data LLC, the Nashua, N.H.-based company said Monday.

``The attorney general has gone too far,″ lawyer Dwight Drake said.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, seeks unspecified monetary damages for defamation, interfering with prospective contracts and abuse of the legal process.

``Image Data’s position seems to be that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to me,″ Condon said Monday. ``But that doesn’t surprise me coming from a company that wants to ignore the constitutional protection against unreasonable invasion of privacy.″

South Carolina’s Public Safety Department sold 3.5 million driver’s license photos to Image Data for $5,000 to test the company’s system for preventing fraud by matching a person’s identity with their credit card or personal check.

After a public outcry when news of the agreement broke, the state sued to get out of the contract.

Image Data’s lawsuit asks the court to dismiss Condon’s action. Florida and Colorado also agreed to sell their driver’s license photos to the company but have tried to back out after concerns were raised.

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