Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lawmakers, Credit Card Companies Take Aim at Mug Shot Websites

Celebrity mug shots
Original Article

You wouldn't have to make a law to do this if the police didn't post them online, now would you? But it's about time something was done!

Now all the victims of these extortion sites can feel what it's like to have your photo, name, criminal record, etc online! It makes it hard, if not impossible, to get a job or place to stay.


12/18/2013

By STEVE OSUNSAMI, BRANDON BAUR and LAUREN EFFRON

Watch the full story on "Nightline" tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET

For people who find their faces splashed across mug shot websites, even if they were later found innocent of the crimes, it can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Now, lawmakers and even credit card companies are stepping in to help protect people from further humiliation.

Owners of mug shot websites will post the photos released by police departments with the person's name and information. Many then make money by charging people, sometimes hundreds of dollars, to have a mug shot removed. Dozens of these sites exist and can rack up clicks -- BustedMugshots.com alone boasts nearly three million viewers per month.

_____ said the mug shot from his DUI arrest in Georgia ended up on one of these websites and now pops up with every Internet search of his name.

"Stuff follows you forever and it feels like I'm a little fish in a big pond," he said. "It's hard to fight these mug shot companies. It's hard, I don't even know who to turn to, to try to make these things go away."

The former ROTC cadet now runs a moving business and hires college students, but fears he will never escape his past.

"It's ridiculous to have one small chapter of your life affect a big portion of your life," he said.

What these websites are doing is considered legal. They stand behind "sunshine" laws that allow them to legally download booking photos and other open records from police websites, sometimes the very second those files are released. In some cases, the websites won't remove the mug shots even if the person was cleared of all charges.

And it can be hard to track down the site owners to ask to have the mug shot taken down. Often the contact information listed on these websites leads to dead ends.

_____ said she felt violated by mug shot websites that legally published the booking photos from what she said was a false arrest from a domestic dispute. She said she was innocent, and the charge was later cleared from her record, but her mug shot remains online.

"It's like you can't move on with your life," she said. "I mean everybody goes to Google now to see who you are. ... I'm not a criminal. I'm not charged with anything."

When _____ asked one of the mug shot websites to keep her photos private, she said they would do it if she paid them $399. She refused and while she was negotiating with one website, her mug shot showed up on others.

"Just to have that online, it's just a constant reminder of my nightmare," _____ said. "It's not just that I take my photograph down on this site, it comes down on this site and it pops up somewhere else. Over and over again, so when does it stop? What am I paying for?"

When "Nightline" first told this story earlier this year, Georgia lawmaker Roger Bruce was pushing a bill that would make it a crime for a website to charge someone in Georgia to remove a mug shot photo. After our report, nearly every state lawmaker supported his bill and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law. Georgia joins a handful of states now trying to protect residents who have booking photos.

"Well, you can file a lawsuit now," Bruce said. "Basically what happens now is if your mug shot is out there and you call them, they have 30 days to remove it. If they don't remove it now they are in violation of the law."


10 comments :

Becca Creech said...

wow good points. i can't under stand the registry anyways. why can't a person get on with life after their sentence. If they were meant to serve longer time then why were they released. I mean seriously not just the registrant suffers but the entire family who is innocent of the crime, only guilt is loving someone who messed up. all have sinned.

Loneranger said...

This is something that politicians either have no desire to think about or use it to promote any kind of law they can attach it to. Who would vote against any bill that would punish sex offenders. Even if it means voting for a law they really don't support. Or just attach something and look like you did something really important for the children. When infact you have harmed millions of children in the process. One has to wonder why politicians that either through ignorance or self serving actions have been allowed to prosper and continue as they have no evidence any of the registry laws and all the bashing has accomplished anything more than to gather votes. Millions of sound bites of how this is needed and every program has caused more harm then good. One day all this will balloon and expand to where no state will be able to financially withstand the backlash. Then the truth will come out and will these politicians be able to go back and fix this mess and save face? Something that is more important to any politician than anything it would seem. As time goes by the ones that really do have what it takes to be a lawmaker and doesn't just vote from the hip will surface with all the studies to back up what they say. Then how will the ignorant under educated ones look? Really all the information is readily available and much more credible than sighting re offence rates that are not substantiated to pass yet another sensational law. It used to be drug offenders and that got to the point where people didn't even listen. All they have done to carry out the war on drugs only brought to light that it is more of a medical condition then a criminal for the ones involved. So will this get to a point where people have heard it all before and have paid through taxes to end up with it was really a medical problem that can be treated for the majority? Would make more sense than what they are doing now. Maybe it's time they took a different approach. They could and save face along with billions of tax dollars in the process.

NJ45143112 said...

Merry Christmas to all and to offenders: NO RIGHTS!

Chuck N said...

K: I have not seen my kids in 3 1/2 years, but I refuse to give up because I believe my kids still need their dad in their lives. I have spent thousands of dollars first trying to maintain contact prior to my conviction and since my release working to find a way back to them. I refuse to give up. Life is a series of ups and downs, some higher and lower than others. The way you handle the low points is a great determining factor of how others, including your children will judge your character. Suicide is never an answer, if things are that bad, there is only one way for them to go, and that is up. Please also, don't forget God. God gives love and hope to all.

Bird said...

Wow Derek that actually sounds like it went surprisingly well. They actually seemed polite and quite receptive and responsive. I hope something is done about this, especially the food stamp provision. I am in the same situation as far as the food assistance is concerned. They haven't proposed no such law here but they are trying to cut me off in another way. I am disabled but have not yet won my disability case and the state is saying that I am under 42 with no dependents and not in school then If I have not 'officially' been ruled as disabled then I must either work part time, be enrolled in school, or participate in job training classes in order to continue to receive food assistance. None of which I am able to do. They told me I must receive a doctors note stating I am disabled, which I did. But then they told me his note was not sufficient and demanded I have another 'state approved' doctor review me. So I made an appointment to do this and seen this doctor who told me that since I was a new patient and this was an intake appointment he could not legally fill out the form at that time. So I made a second appointment which they, I feel purposely, scheduled for the 31st of December knowing that is past the deadline to have the form returned. And with the New Years holiday it would be impossible to get anything done. So they are jerking me around and trying hard to cut me off.

Loneranger said...

K many of us go through feelings like this. I don't often in my writings involve my personal experiences but this time it might be something I should share. 20 years ago when I was facing charges and my family was being torn apart I also considered killing myself as I felt it would stop the pain. I was sitting in a chair by the window in my one room apartment that I had been exiled to. I had loaded my 38 with hollow point plus P and knew exactly what that would do. The problem i was having as i had it all worked out was I didn't want to hurt anyone else in the building or across the street. the TV was on and I was not really paying attention at first as I tried to figure an angle. There was one of those TV evangelists talking on the TV at the time and in the process of trying to figure out what to do I heard him ask a question. If you were not alive who would care? Who in this world needs you? I stopped and thought as I felt it was only fair to ponder the question.
As I thought my son came to mind. He was only 12 and he needed me. So I stopped and I'm glad I did. I endured the pain and mostly have gone on. But here is the best part. I not only went on but met my second wife. We lived a lifetime while we were together but lost her to cancer four years later. Now one would think that would be the time to give up. But two years later I was presented with a new grand child the daughter of the son I would have left behind.
So let me ask you the same question. Who in this world needs you? Maybe now or in the future?

NJ45143112 said...

Another way to look at this is why should we give our Nazi government the pleasure of knowing they defeated us? The only difference between us and them is that they have power. Power WE gave them...
They misuse that power through blind ignorance or the oft used excuse "I'm just doing my duty" (let alone outright bias) and they expect that they are beyond reproach and favored of God. Obviously, they are higher up the food chain so aren't they closer to the big guy?
On a pile of cra* like that, you may be much higher in the air but a hell of a lot farther from the father...
I think we all saw our lives end one day when the feds arrived. I think we all felt very alone and saw nothing to live for. But your heart, mind and soul were not built by men. They were built by God. Neither you nor they have a right to destroy them. Use them and build on them...
I'm sorry if this sounds preachy but it's true...
You are here for a purpose and as hard as it may be to accept, you are in a process that has a conclusion which has been predestined before your birth...
If you haven't accepted Christ, I imagine your despair may be great. Mine was....
Give the guy a chance. He can shoulder your burden if you give him that chance. And remember, they were never better than you. They were never stronger than you. They were and are just people who will never know the full joy of life because they are more wrapped up in their own self-importance than doing the one thing that we were designed for, helping and bettering the existence of others...
That's called community...
If you are angry, let it fire you...
If you are sad, share it...
If you are scared, face it...
But under no circumstance, end your life...
Nobody is more valuable than you are because there is only one of you and you can't be replaced...

oncefallendotcom said...

I hope the other people can do the same with their legislators. The only difference between this time and other times I speak with legislators is I had a chance to meet him in person because of a community meeting he gave. Lucky me! But calling on the phone and sending letters works just as well.

Virginia Hall said...

Nicely done. If half the people who post on FB and otherwise "talk" translated that talk into action as you have done and continue to do -- the registry would be a thing of the past. Thank you Derek, for standing up, showing up and speaking up.

aleem said...

I feel for everyone who lost a love one but on the other hand should everyone have to pay for a couple wackos. I blame NJ. state for letting the guy out because He already had two child molestation case but they still let him out. the ones are blame the parole board of NJ state now everyone have to suffer.