- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Members of the public will again be able to go online and view photos taken by the Civil Air Patrol of flood-related oil spills.

The El Paso Times (https://bit.ly/29kdTm5 ) reported Tuesday that the Department of Public Safety has reversed itself and will no longer require a login and password for the University of Texas website.

The Civil Air Patrol flies sorties to track flooding and document damage. The El Paso Times in May published a story about the photos, which were then removed from the website as officials cited privacy concerns.

The newspaper then filed a public information request for all reconnaissance photos of such Texas spills shot by the Civil Air Patrol since 2014. The department and other state agencies decided last week that it was not feasible to respond to the request due to the sheer volume of photographs. Officials said it could be time-consuming and costly for a member of the public to access them and for an agency to review each photo for privacy concerns.

DPS officials say nearly 100,000 photos were taken in just the past year.

DPS press secretary Tom Vinger said that a login and password will no longer be required in the interest of convenient public access.

“While the original intended use of the photos and privacy concerns remain valid, the goal was never to place an undue burden on the public in being able to obtain them,” Vinger said.

According to Vinger, one of the privacy concerns was that images of dead bodies might appear before authorities could notify next of kin.

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Information from: El Paso Times, https://www.elpasotimes.com

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