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Could Some Family Photos Get You in Trouble?

Should you think twice before uploading personal family photos?

A few days — or maybe it was weeks — after I gave birth to my son, I uploaded a bunch of digital images from the birth to one of those online photo printing companies and clicked “purchase.”

Since I don’t make it a habit of having babies with my pants on, there was plenty of nudity in the shots. I didn’t think anything of it until I told my husband, “don’t worry. I ordered the pictures,” and he responded, “you did what?!” Birth is a beautiful thing. I was still on the hormone high! I didn’t think twice about the law. (In fact, I’m not sure I know what laws on naked pics actually are.)

So I hunkered down and waited for the cops to arrive and take the kids away and put me in jail for indecency. They never did show up. But my worry wasn’t totally misplaced.

Fun family nudey pictures are something of a fuzzy area in terms of local decency laws. For the past decade, unsuspecting parents have been arrested or had their children removed after the clerk at a photo processing facility alerted authorities. One moms cute hiney shots are another photo clerk’s lascivious evidence of a child pornography ring. Lives have been destroyed over an innocent keepsake.

As Brian Alexander, author of the book America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction, reports for MSNBC, most charges brought against parents for indecent photos of themselves or their children have been dropped. In the case of a Utah couple, the family was torn apart after the father was reported for child pornography but then deported for being in the U.S. illegally.

Except for my post-birth blip, I’ll admit I’m careful, and not just with what I print out but with what I upload to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. I write about my life as a mom and I’m not particularly crazy about perfect strangers putting faces with names and events.

How careful are you with pictures of your children? Have you ever gotten raised eyebrows from the photo clerk? What precautions do you take?

photo: iStockphoto.com/eliandric

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