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Google Cracks Down On Mugshot Blackmail Sites

timothy posted 1 year,18 days | from the it'll-cost-ya dept.

Crime 251

Google is apparently displeased with sites designed to extract money from arrestees in exchange for removing their mugshot pictures online, and is tweaking its algorithms to at least reduce their revenue stream. From the article at The New York Times: "It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. ... The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them. ... But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public."

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The solution is simple. (5, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052859)

The simple solution is to press extortion charges against websites that offer to take down pictures of the subjects for money.

Re:The solution is simple. (4, Insightful)

asmkm22 (1902712) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052913)

I'm pretty sure the pictures are considered public domain, in the same way that certain other legal information is. That's assuming that the person really was convicted of the crime and the picture was officially released or otherwise searchable through traditional means.

Otherwise, we'd have constant reports of celebrities filling lawsuits every time one of their mugshots is posted.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052963)

You just need to be accused of a crime, not convicted. Search the name of my now dead ex, and you will see a mugshot, even though she was never convicted. Her picture is next to a sexual predator as I recall.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052995)

How can you be sure that her picture is next to that of a sexual predator? Maybe he was never convicted, too.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053275)

You just need to be accused of a crime, not convicted. Search the name of my now dead ex, and you will see a mugshot, even though she was never convicted. Her picture is next to a sexual predator as I recall.

So that we may see this photo, what is Mrs. Coward's first name?

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053403)

I would presume her name is Mrs. Ann Coward [google.com] .

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053545)

I had been under the impression that Ann O'nymous Coward was female. That explains things. Fucking tease...

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053645)

How can we do that if you don't give us the name?

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Insightful)

interval1066 (668936) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053693)

This is a real problem. In an age where you can destroy a completely innocent life with a few mouseclicks I'm really surprised there's not been more of an outcry. Its trivial to destroy some one's credit and make them look like they're felons... and complete hell to correct these things.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052969)

But the sites posting celebrity mugshots aren't offering to take those mugshots down in exchange for cash. That's an important distinction.

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052977)

It's obviously public domain, but by when require a ransom to take it down, it becomes extortion.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053665)

No, it is an administrative fee.

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053171)

In other countries such pictures get not published. They are property of the government (hence copyrighted) and according to privacy laws and laws about your personal right to have control over the fotos taken from you, publishinig them is a copyright infringement, a infringement on privacy and demanding money to remove them from "the internet" is blackmailing and fraud.
If some one would do that with my mugshot in my country he had bad luck. Surprising that in gods own country people obviously have no rights at all and need a new law every year to combat such exploits.

Re:The solution is simple. (3, Interesting)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053197)

Public records are publicly available and government photos are "not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.". [usa.gov] .

That said, it should be slander to post the records with the implication they mean someone is guilty of something. Posting the final disposition of charges, or something along those lines would be sufficient to defend against that.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053639)

Yup. In the USA that's the case. Maybe we should have more copyright controls - that fixes all the other problems on unregulated use of common information.

Re:The solution is simple. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053741)

That applies only to the Federal government. State, county and municipal governments, who generate the vast majority of mugshots are free to set whatever copyright policies they wish.

Re:The solution is simple. (2)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053181)

That does not make it OK to use the pictures for extortion.

Re:The solution is simple. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052931)

the simple solution is not to be a bad person.

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052971)

> the simple solution is not to be a bad person.

They're putting up *ALL* booking photos. Even those who are innocent. Your solution would work if nobody was ever wrongly arrested.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053239)

> the simple solution is not to be a bad person.

They're putting up *ALL* booking photos. Even those who are innocent. Your solution would work if nobody was ever wrongly arrested.

And if the consequences to sharing the arrests of the guilty were always commensurate to the alleged crime.

Re:The solution is simple. (4, Insightful)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053267)

I don't think you know how things work.

Even for the simple exercise of free speech and assembly, the order of the day is increasingly "catch and release", often without so much as a ticket for most yet all are routinely fingerprinted and photographed. This was not uncommon all the way back to anti-war protests in the '70s and it's only gotten worse.

Will you seriously contend that exercising basic rights [once-upon-a-time] protected by the constitution makes one a bad person?

Mayhap you presume that anyone arrested is automatically guilty of something and deserving of conviction? Is someone convicted under what is later shown to be bad law also a bad person?

Well, then, carry on, Citizen, the State needs more like you.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053393)

So US is not that much different from most communists regimes back in the day - you could live and work there as long as you did not tease establishment all too much in which case they would brand you criminal and make your professional life going into sewer and other such things. Not that violent and evil as propaganda may want you to believe. Quite normal in fact for a civilized, democratic country fighting for peace and human rights.....

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

scarboni888 (1122993) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053661)

Well then if this is such a common practice the mug shots are meaningless and therefore no one should be getting humiliated by them.

Co-worker: haha I found your mug shot on the internet.
Me: Great now lets look for yours.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053295)

the simple solution is not to be a bad person.

So by virtue of your simpleton comment, we can surmise that you believe law enforcement NEVER makes any mistakes and there are never any false arrests, right???

Better solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053041)

Everybody make a mugshot of yourselves and post them online. If there are enough fake ones out there people will stop paying attention to them.

Re:The solution is simple. (-1, Troll)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053089)

Yes, it is simple. Don't do illegal stuff. For most people when the do illegal stuff it stays on their record. Write a bad check when you are 20 and there is a potential misdemenor, if not a felony, on your record all you life. Get caught in a situation where you commit a felony when you 18 and you can't vote.

The stories in the NYT, were, for the most part kids who cut a sweet heart deal and got away with stuff that the many people would not. Honestly, i don't believe in the drug laws, but I do think following laws, at least enough to not get caught is a sign of discipline and intelligence, characteristics that employers want. I suspect that the vast majority of us do not end up in booking.

So yes, these sites are going to cause a problem because it puts these people at competitive disadvantage. Just like a degree, or one's weight, or one's decision to wear a t-shirt and jeans instead of a suit. But at some point one decides to transport 9 pills across sate lines because one thinks one is better than everyone else and the laws do not apply, or because there has alwsys been protection from the laws applying to you. Until they do, then one starts whining on how unfair life is. All while some less fortunate kid is spending 10 years in jail for a single hit of crack.

Here is what I compare this to. The online sexual predator list. When it was first created I argued against it because it was going to do more harm than good, and at some point it would put pressure on prosecutors to not charge people who were sexual predators because they would be on the list. Fast forward to today. Parents are whining because their son, who did nothing more than have sex with a drunk girl, video it, and post it online, are being put on the list as a sexual predator. Defense attorney's are using it in the defense of sexual predators.

But in both cases it is what society has decided are practical consequences to punish convicted criminals. We want to know if we have sexual predator next door. Employers want to know if they are hiring a criminals. In both cases we are safe if we don't do the crime.

If we do the crime, then I guess we are conditioned by our upbringing to complain the life is unfair.

But really, i try not do crime. That is my simple solution.

Re:The solution is simple. (3, Informative)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053135)

It isn't simple at all, my dear ass, because as other comments have pointed out these pictures are taken for *anyone* that gets booked... whether or not you even committed a crime.

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Interesting)

MisterSquid (231834) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053643)

In the US since the late 1980's, getting arrested for any (and no) reason has become a huge socioeconomic problem as many employers, including low-tier employers, run background checks on prospective employees that flag subjects in the Federal NCIC database which records all arrests regardless of conviction, acquittal, guilt, or innocence.

As a result, many people (but especially black males and LNWI's, or Low Net Worth Individuals) are relegated to a lifetime of poor employment prospects, unable to land jobs even as burger-flippers. This is true even if these arrestees are innocent!

Dale Carson, a criminal defense attorney with experience as a police officer and an FBI agent, has written a book called "Arrest-Proof Yourself" [archive.org] which basically makes the argument that individuals should do anything they can (within the law) to avoid arrest for the simple fact that in the United States being arrested will bring incalculable financial harm to people who find themselves arrested for any reason.

The book is enlightening and can be profitably be read by almost everyone, even if one's risk of arrest is low.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

russotto (537200) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053139)

Yes, it is simple. Don't do illegal stuff. For most people when the do illegal stuff it stays on their record.

Honestly, i don't believe in the drug laws, but I do think following laws, at least enough to not get caught is a sign of discipline and intelligence, characteristics that employers want. I suspect that the vast majority of us do not end up in booking.

I've been arrested twice and of those, booked (with mugshot) once. In neither case was I convicted of a crime. So what's your advice for those who are arrested despite not committing a crime?

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053557)

I've been arrested twice and of those, booked (with mugshot) once. In neither case was I convicted of a crime. So what's your advice for those who are arrested despite not committing a crime?

He does not have any he is a typical moron who equates arrested with guilty. Amazing how after all this time these primitives have not internalized the core precept of modern jurisprudence, the accused are innocent until convicted.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053147)

Not everyone who is arrested is guilty, and there are thousands of things that are illegal which shouldn't be crimes.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053161)

Yes, it is simple. Don't do illegal stuff.

How does that prevent one from getting arrested? Are you saying that everyone who is arrested is guilty? Why are we even bothering with a court system?

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053109)

The simple solution is to press extortion charges against websites that offer to take down pictures of the subjects for money.

Indeed... I would suggest a law that it will be a criminal offense for the CEO or Management of any company, to execute that particular form of extortion.

Then the CEO can have their mugshot posted all over the place, and see how it feels.

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053115)

It doesn't work.

Google should ALSO be pulling the plug on that "rip off report" site that let's anyone leave negative comments of any kind about anyone under any circumstances (including name, phone number, domains, address, etc) and never *ever* removes it . . . but will work with the person being attacked . . . if they pay for the "business/corporate relation services".

I banned a user from my website almost a decade ago for defrauding other users, using false information for their account, and sending death threats to other users (and myself) and shortly after, that person posted some pretty awful stuff on the site which I have no way to ever remove, unless I want to submit to the extortion of the guy behind that site. Google includes their results right at the top of most people's results (though I believe Yahoo! has since dinged the domain for SEO spamming).

It's no different than these mugshots, except that at least with mugshots, you have been arrested. With these "reputation" and "consumer protection" sites that are actual extortionists (especially this one), you don't have to have been arrested. Or even have done business with the person making the attack. Or even *have* a business (I don't and didn't). You can literally just take anyone you're pissed off at and sale vile things about them on the site, include personal information and contact information and so on, and it'll be up there until the end of time, marring any searches for them in the future.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053167)

Have you filed a defamation suit?

Re:The solution is simple. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053121)

I applaud Google for this move but the solution is for LEO not to release pictures or other personally identifiable information about people who have not been convicted in the first place because doing so can ruin an innocent person's life and innocent people get charged with crimes all the time. On a related note, when Strauss-Kahn got the "perp walk" treatment, many in France were shocked because the practice is banned [telegraph.co.uk] there to protect the innocent,

Re:The solution is simple. (3, Interesting)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053251)

I applaud Google for this move but the solution is for LEO not to release pictures or other personally identifiable information about people who have not been convicted in the first place because doing so can ruin an innocent person's life and innocent people get charged with crimes all the time. On a related note, when Strauss-Kahn got the "perp walk" treatment, many in France were shocked because the practice is banned [telegraph.co.uk] there to protect the innocent,

This indeed is the correct solution. If governments were not tossing these pictures about willy-nilly, these sites would not have any content of anybody who was later found not guilty. The sources are frequently sheriff's department websites that amount to a big giant campaign sight at taxpayer expense saying "Hey! Look how many people we are arresting for YOU!"

It is pretty haphazard too. I have been trying to get an FBI wanted poster from 1972, of a guy who was caught and confessed (for real) in 1986, but they keep saying it cannot be released because it is of a "living person." I ended up getting the 1982 version from a collector's site anyway.

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053299)

Ahh making LEO act like they are supposed to instead of the Organized Gang that they really are.

Your LEO is no different than the local crack dealing gang, except they are better financed and have better equipment. But the level of scumbags that are soldiers on the ground are the same.

Do not trust cops, EVER. They are your enemy and you must remember that at all times.

Re:The solution is simple. (0)

moteyalpha (1228680) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053185)

1. Someone gets arrested for prostitution.
2. Internet publishes their picture.
3. They get more business.
4. Profit!

Re:The solution is simple. (1)

Nimey (114278) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053291)

Because everyone's rich enough to afford legal representation after paying for rent, food, clothing, and medicine?

Better solution: truthful disclaimer (0)

pikine (771084) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053515)

Make it legally required for mugshot sites to display a prominent warning along with the image, stating that a mugshot does not necessarily imply charges or conviction or criminal record. Google can also voluntarily display a statement to that effect if the image algorithm can tell it's a mugshot.

The main problem is when people mistake mugshots for what they really are. Just fix this problem. It doesn't impinge journalist right to publish.

If you look at it this way, the mugshot sites are obviously up to no good. Since criminal records are also public record, the responsible way to disclose mugshot is by making the actual criminal record or the absence of the record available. And if you've seen their ads, they clearly insinuate that mugshots represent a person's criminal history but that is a lie. Not all lying is illegal, but the law could indeed enforce truthful disclosure without running afoul of the First Amendment.

Say "Cheese" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052867)

We'd like you to smile while we have our hand out to try to take advantage of you now that you're trying to get your life back on track.

I wonder how many of these site operators have a mugshot if their own?

Copyright? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052883)

The simple solution is to distribute these images with stipulation that they may not be used in any commercial manner, whether to charge to display them or to remove them. It's the ultimate "free" distribution.

May work for states, not feds (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052909)

Distributing photos of arrested persons under something analogous to a Creative Commons non-commercial license may work for states. It at least won't work for federal police agencies such as the MPDC and the FBI, whose works enter the public domain upon publication.

Re:Copyright? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052987)

This would work if the entire internet was in the United States. The sites will continue to operate, just from some other country that doesn't give a damn about the license that the photos were released under.

Trade sanctions (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052999)

[Blatantly infringing photo] sites will continue to operate, just from some other country

That's what SOPA was supposed to be for. But even without SOPA, copyright owners could do the same thing the RIAA is doing: work through the US Trade Representative to threaten foreign governments with trade sanctions for violating the Berne Convention.

Re:Copyright? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053437)

So, a media organization could not post them -- esp. if they charge a subscription (WSJ, NYT for example)? Transparency is good in a democratic society.

Perhaps the answer is to put all criminal records, including all resolutions, in all jurisdictions on line except when expunged. Some degree of redaction, under judicial review, could be done to avoid interfering with ongoing investigations. Perhaps redaction approval is good for 12 months or a lesser time as decided by the judge - if police need, they can apply for renewal. This way, there's no need to look at the pictures, just look at the actual records and these sites would lose their economic value.

Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052885)

"The sites are perfectly legal"
The sites are and have never been legal in Sweden.
You can not just say it is legal when its not true. Why do slashdot post these articles?

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052903)

Slashdot has never been a Swedish web site. You can not say it is a Swedish web site when it is not true.

Re:Not legal (3, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052917)

It's the American obsession with mugshots. Again, something the rest of the world will never understand. Here in .cz, you'd be probably thrown into jail for spreading such photos in the first place.

Re:Not legal (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052991)

Look, it's the foreigners obsession with being pretentious assholes.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053047)

Mod parent up.

Re:Not legal (3, Funny)

radarskiy (2874255) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053085)

If we Americans stopped being pretentious assholes, maybe foreigners would stop being obsessed with us.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053119)

Look, a self-hating American. You're an even bigger pretentious asshole.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053423)

and little assholes like you are our bitches. Get that lipstick on you, and Squeal like a pig for me.

Re:Not legal (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053445)

Look, it's the insecure American doing name-calling.

Re:Not legal (3, Insightful)

real gumby (11516) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053301)

It's the American obsession with mugshots. Again, something the rest of the world will never understand. Here in .cz, you'd be probably thrown into jail for spreading such photos in the first place.

Actually, it's an important civil rights issue. Arrests are public as a way of preventing secret arrests, which were used in pre-revolutionary time and, sadly continue in many places. Its origins lie in the sixth sixth amendment to the United States' constitution [wikipedia.org] , which tries to guarantee a swift and public trial as a check on the police, the public prosecutors and the judicial system.

Sure, it's not perfect. The system can and is being abused by jerks (but then again there are jerks in every country). The "perp walks" [wikipedia.org] that cops do are also an exploitative use of a tool designed to rein them in. And I suspect the prohibition on secret arrests has been violated from time to time :-(. Not to mention a arrest is something most people would not like spread around (I wouldn't!).

But don't condemn the obsession with public mugshots without understanding their purpose.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053567)

There's a big difference between

- it's available in the town hall, and you can check then out
or
- you can wget all, country-wide and have your own copy in a matter of seconds.

Re:Not legal (3, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053637)

I think the conflict isn't as much about public arrests but about a clash between free speech and privacy rights. In America, you can take a photo of someone and distribute it without their consent. This is limited in many other places. There's still footage of arrests, but the faces have to be blurred out on TV.

Re:Not legal (2)

houghi (78078) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053681)

Arrests are public as a way of preventing secret arrests

So there are no secret arrests?

I do understand the purpose and it isn't working. The disadvantages outweigh the advantages by a serious margin.

In the rest of the world where people are innocent until proven guilty, they are also have some privacy. This because privacy should be a right, not a privilege.

Re:Not legal (1)

real gumby (11516) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053733)

If you had quoted more of my comment you would have included my point that yes, secret arrests occur, but they are fortunately extremely uncommon. A lot of the outrage (such as it is, which sadly isn't enough) over FISA is its secret nature, and what has resulted from it.

There are many many problems with the system at large, don't get me wrong. Plea bargains seem like fundamentally abusive, and are illegal in most countries. "Civil forfeiture" is a top to bottom abuse. One could easily go on, and go ahead: feel free to work on these issues.

My point is simply that the origin of public arrest is a good one, it does seem to mostly work properly, and that it's the abuses that should be addressed, not the public nature. If we had magical cops who only arrested guilty people it wouldn't be needed. Since they don't exist, this is the best check we have,

(By the way: answering an AC's response to my comment: yes there is a qualitative difference between wgetting the records in bulk than having to go into the basement and copy them down one by one. I don't think that is a bad thing though -- life was much worse when abuses could be hidden because finding out was hard, or because access to information was essentially restricted to a secret elite).

Re:Not legal (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053311)

You live in a free country, here in the USA things are not that way.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053467)

That's right. In most of Europe you can't defame people, even if you are speaking the truth. In most of Europe defamation trumps freedom of speech. Here in the USA you are not free to sue people for slander unless they are actually lying.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053455)

Another funny thing we have here - you can use truth as an affirmative defense for defamation. That is, if I say you were arrested for child buggery, and you sue me for defamation, and I prove that in fact you were arrested for child buggery, you are going to lose your case.

Actually the best defense for this is to have a common name, where the odds of anyone you care about stumbling upon the image would be small, even with a search for John Smith (unless they were searching for your name + crime, in which case they probably already know).

USA (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,18 days | (#45052925)

The sites are and have never been legal in Sweden.

Read the featured article and discover that many states of the United States of America do not ban this practice. Even the summary has clues to the jurisdiction: "Georgia" could be a former Soviet republic, but "Utah" is a U.S. state.

Re:USA (2)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053163)

Not only are there websites in the US, but we have actual print publications (some put together by the websites) in the US that are available at news stands and contain nothing but recent mugshots. It's pretty hideous. It's one thing to have someone's mugshot on television or in a paper, because it is relevant urgent news, but it's another to have every person who has ever for any reason been arrested, such as for being at a rowdy party with a bunch of people and then being released later, after you'd been processed and found not to be part of the rowdy group. Or have been a case of mistaken identity (like a couple decades ago, when my uncle was arrested because he looked exactly like a major counterfeiter in the region that they'd been looking for). Or even people who are guilty and maybe even convicted of small crimes. Just because it is a public record isn't justification in and of itself that it should be plastered all over.

I feel kind of gross whenever I see some site (hell, even popular major news sites like CBS affiliates or FOX websites and so on) that does a "look at these ridiculous mugshots!" or "look at how ugly the people in these mugshots are!" link-bait galleries. It's just fucking disgusting and feels wrong, even if the only benefit is clicks/views. I have never understood how we are "okay" with this.

Re:Not legal (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052979)

"The sites are perfectly legal"
The sites are and have never been legal in Sweden.
You can not just say it is legal when its not true. Why do slashdot post these articles?

Any time Europeans accuse Americans of being stubborn and pigheadedly ignorant, I just come back to Slashdot and look for any article whose comments feature Europeans whining because they utterly refuse to recognize when an article regarding US news is posted on a very clearly US-hosted, US-staffed, US-centric website. That makes me feel better. It's reliable, too, since there has literally been no time in the past ten years of Slashdot where I couldn't find an article on the front page whose comments fit this criteria. Hell, most of the time it's one of the first three on the site, even with filters on.

Re:Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053279)

So maybe /. should stop posting stuff not related to US stuff.

Re:Not legal (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053105)

Extortion is illegal pretty much everywhere.

Re:Not legal (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053335)

Not when the police does it. It's 100% legal when performed by your local, state, or federal law enforcement.

You are confusing laws for you compared to what they have to abide by.

Re:Not legal (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053395)

The police are not the ones doing the extortion here.

Re:Not legal (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053427)

Who released the photos? the police.

Re:Not legal (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053721)

And who invented the Camera they were taken with?
Alhazen, obvious a ringleader in this Muslim extortion plot.

Expunged record? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052927)

IIRC, Georgia has some of the strictest drunk driving laws and your record is never expunged. What this means is once your mugshot is online, it will be copied to other websites and you'll never get it down. I'm actually pleased Google is doing something about this, though I would prefer mugshots not be public record in the first place.

Solution: Don't have a unique name (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052935)

The solution is to have a common name such as "John Smith" or "Jane Smith". There are probably dozens of people by that name in any particular city or town. Someone (like a prospective employer) searching your name on Google will not know if a mugshot photo is you or just someone with the same common name.

If you have a unique name...well, your screwed.

Common names have their own pitfalls (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053021)

Someone (like a prospective employer) searching your name on Google will not know if a mugshot photo is you or just someone with the same common name.

On the other hand, having the same as a criminal can still confuse human resources departments who assume that the person whose name is on the application is the same person whose mugshot is on the site, provided the skin color matches. It's happened with the no-fly list, and it's happened with a 4-year-old rapist [cracked.com] .

The solution is simple (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45052951)

Stop automatically thinking people are criminals because they were arrested. Wake up and realize that you are living in a police state where anyone can be arrested at any time because a cop wanted to. A friend of mine was pulled over for running a stop sign and the cop asked to search his car. Of course he said "no" so the cop arrested him and took him to jail for running the stop sign, which allowed him to search the car "incident to arrest." This crap happens all the time in Texas.

Re:The solution is simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053015)

This crap happens all the time in Texas.

It doesn't surprise me that happens in Texas. From your Governor on down y'all got the government you voted for and want. Please take your Senator back and let him finish destroying your state instead of destroying the United States.

Why don't they just copyright the mug shots (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053031)

A simple copyright stamp would solve the problem.
The pictures are still public and any one can see them.
However permission would be required for use. Use could be stipulated as part of that.
Requires some administration, but the other solutions do as well.

3rd party solution (2)

ThreeGigs (239452) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053065)

Contract with 3rd party photographers to take the pictures, with a suitable license agreement (perpetual use by police/courts/etc.). Let the photographer sue for unlicensed commercial use by other sites.

The problem will be solved rather quickly.

Re:3rd party solution (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053093)

And why would our local police want a 3rd party photographer (whom they would presumably have to pay) to take the pictures? It's not like these things are carefully set up with hair lighting and a nice background. It's a mounted camera on a wall. They tell the perp to stand there and somebody pushes a button.

On newer digital systems, you don't even have to hold the sign.

Re:3rd party solution (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053203)

This is a fantastic idea -- every photographer I've ever met can certainly afford the court costs and legal fees to take on sites such as these.
Hell they have entire legal teams! I can't believe no one has ever thought of this before.

Quick -- you better go patent your idea!

Re:3rd party solution (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053233)

Sell the camera on the wall to a third party. Doesn't require a third party human to be present for the photo to be their property.

Re:3rd party solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053493)

The police are paying somebody. Unless it's a small town, the pictures are probably not taken by an actual police officer (badge, gun, arrest power) anyway. You are just changing who does it. That being said, I doubt you could get around public record laws that easily.

Legal/Illegal in the USA is irrelevant (1)

schwit1 (797399) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053067)

US laws are meaningless if the web site is hosted and managed by somebody outside of the USA.

Re:Legal/Illegal in the USA is irrelevant (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053149)

It's kind of cute that you believe US laws have no relevance outside of the US. We totally don't read your email or listen to your phone calls, either.

Re:Legal/Illegal in the USA is irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053429)

You have it backwards. US laws have no relevance inside or outside the US borders to those in charge. US laws have no relevance outside US borders.

Ya, but... (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053103)

... if they ban mugshots, then only criminals will have them. :-)

Throw them in prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053117)

But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public.

I call BS. If public records are public then present a permanent wall of shame, for the public good.

But OTOH if you present a wall of shame until you are paid off by the guilty rich then it is not operating in the public good and is extortion plain and simple. Those running such sites need to be sent to a Federal prison for 25 to life.

Re:Throw them in prison (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053265)

And, of course, get their mugshot posted call over the internet.

This is irrational (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053127)

I am guessing this has little to do with morality and more to do with gaming the search engine. If they paid for ads it would be different. This is as absurd as people who want an erase switch for the internet. I want the feature from "Asylum of the Daleks" that erases my name from the collective human consciousness. Motey who? Some seek fame or infamy and others shun it. Slashdot should charge us to delete stupid comments from their servers. The only problem is that I keep making the same mistake. Doh!

Why do governments post this stuff anyway? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053209)

An arrest isn't an indication of guilt. Can you imagine being falsely accused of something like rape or murder, never being even charged, but having a "Rape" mugshot following you around?

I bet the wrong VIP's mugshot got posted (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053221)

...or his kid's. Nothing changes in this country unless someone rich, famous, or powerful is affected. Google was saying just a few months ago they didn't care at all about this stuff.

Re:I bet the wrong VIP's mugshot got posted (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053439)

It doesn't even change then. They just flex the rules and get their specific case "fixed" and leave everyone else to be screwed.

This sets a concerning precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053229)

we already know google wields a lot of control that can make or break a business, but modifying their site's core functionality to specifically harm businesses they disapprove of crosses a red line.

Should these be public record at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053253)

What value to society do these pictures actually provide? I suspect very little. If you were to search for your neighbors you might find some of them there. You may even find that a few of them are sex offenders. But does any of this knowledge actually increase your safety or that of your family? I'm inclined to doubt it, especially the knowledge of sex offenders in your midst. Many, many people who commit crimes in their lives never reoffend. The arrest and/or conviction is a wake-up call for them and they change their ways enough to stay out of the criminal justice system. Furthermore, for many offenses, the chances of a reoffense is very low, particularly sex offenses, contrary to popular belief. Furthermore, the vast majority of sex offenses are committed by people who have no record of a sex offense. aSo, is there any real reason that any arrest or conviction information should EVER be put in the public domain in the way it is given the real harm it can do.

An arrest or a conviction can unfairly keep a person from getting a job, getting a promotion, or getting an apartment. In the case of sex offenders, sex offender registries can lead to and has on many occasions has led to vigilante killings and violence. We as a society have an interest in helping those who have made mistakes in their lives to rehabilitate themselves. Not being able to leave where you want or work where you're qualified is not in the interest of society. Thus, mugshots and other criminal justice system information should not be in the public domain and not available for public review.

If you're wealthy you move (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053401)

There's even a name for it: "White Flight". Wealthy people don't live near sex offenders and violent criminals. That's for the poor and middle class.

Slippery slope (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | 1 year,17 days | (#45053459)

So now Google is modifying their algorithm to change the rankings based on how a business runs. Are we going to have to know the business ethics of companies in order choose which search engine will bring up the best results for us? I think that search results should be neutral at least as far as ethics of the people running the search company. Is Google going to slow down the response time to these sites for it's fibre customers too?

I don't agree with what these sites are doing but I think Google setting a dangerous precedent with this action.

Re:Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053577)

They have been doing this all the time for a long time. They specifically try to avoid spam, adult content, phishing sites etc. This is nothing new, and is standard practice. They specifically have targeted similar sets of sites by refusing to sell them ads (they enforce strict content rules if you want their ads). There are all various mixes of trying to defund/cripple things they don't like and trying to hide things their users don't want to see. This is also related to their personalized search results and the whole "filter bubble" problem.

If google really wanted to, they could mark sites as containing malware, then all the browsers which use their safe browsing feature by default (which is most browsers, Chrome, Safari and Firefox) will intercept people's attempts to visit them with a big warning. I'll leave the issue on how google "safe browsing" could exploit partial hash matches to silently track who goes to particular urls for another discussion.

Happy Ending? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45053491)

So yeah, the people running these sites are scum...

But if you click through all 4 pages of the NY Times article, you discover that the attention that the reporter brought to this issue while talking to the likes of Google and the payment processors (MasterCard/Paypal) has started to cut the legs out from under them. Google has started taking countermeasures, and the payment processors have started dropping these types of clients.

Without their blackmail sites getting search results, and without an ability to process payments from the extorted, these roaches are getting less traction.

Yes, this is a problem, and part of the issue is (not surprisingly) when you digitize public records, you lower the bar to these types of activities. But just because its legal doesn't mean that private entities (such as search engines and payment processors) have to endorse/support these types of practices.

So, at the end of the day, yay for the 4th estate? Good for the private entities for not aiding and abetting douchebags? And Legislators are still scrambling to be relevant, and talking about passing new laws to address mugshots, instead of fixing the fundamental issue - what was reasonable for "public records" when you needed to do the legwork to dig this stuff up, isn't when someone can start mining the data wholesale and start building their own NSA-style database on private citizens (yeah, I'm looking at the three major US credit/background check agencies.) That fly-by night grifters are exploiting this capability for their own ends is just a *symptom* of the problem, not the problem.

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