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States Go After Mugshot Websites

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Posted 10th January 2015 at 11:23 PM by kindsvater

You may have heard about mugshot websites. These are sites that get arrest and booking photos from police departments then post the information online. For a hefty fee you can pay to get it removed from the site.

These are not celebrity websites per se (such as the OJ Simpson mug shot shown above), but sites showing every day people. The problem with booking photos is simply a claim of wrongdoing has been made. There is no conviction of a crime. The charges may be dropped.

But the photos on these sites stay around forever.

As of January 1, 2015, California became the fifth state (I believe) to outlaw the requirement that a fee be paid to remove a photo.

The law does not outlaw mug shot sites - nor could it. Basically, public information is being posted.

Whether a law prohibiting the payment of a fee to remove information on a private website is legal or not remains to be seen. Maybe there has been a case deciding this issue, but I did not see any in a quick perusal online.

In any event, if your big idea for 2015 was to create a mugshot site to get paid from angry people with pitchforks unhappy you are posting their drunk photo and profiting from a bad event in their life, it may be time to reconsider.

The California legislative history for the new law stated about twenty states are now considering such payment bans.

The ironic part of the law is that if the mugshot website faces liability for demanding or even accepting payment to remove a photo - it won't. Then someone is really stuck with their drunk photo online.

I have a more detailed report here with a copy of the law, and of course I have already thought of several loopholes which allow someone and a mugshot website to work out how to pay for a booking photo removal without running afoul of the law.

California and other states of course hope by outlawing payments that will cause the websites to disappear.

I doubt it. More likely web hosting and addresses move offshore.

Still, this may be an online business model to reconsider.

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  1. New Comment
    writeaway's Avatar
    That California law is a great idea. It's basically cracking down on extortion.
    Posted 19th January 2015 at 06:45 PM by writeaway writeaway is offline

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